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Brigham Young University
The Boys of Springtown
With Special Reference to William Wallace
Jones and Ned Fisher.
By XEPHI ANDERSON,
Author of "Added Upon," "John St. John,'
"Romance of a Missionary,^' Etc.
DRAWINGS BY C. E. TILLOTSOX.
Press of Zion's Printing and Publishing Company,
Independence, Jackson County, Missouri.
"The hills are dearest which our childhood feet
Have climbed the earliest; and the streams most sweet
Are ever those at which our ^oung lips drank —
Stooped to their waters o*er the grassy hank-"
TO MY BOYS.
DEAN, GRANT, HARALD, CHARLES.
BR.GHAM YOUNG .; .iv£RSra
CHAPTER ONE, In which William Wallace Jones
Arrives in the Land of Opportunity and Meets
Ned Fisher 7
CHAPTER TWO, In which some more of the Boys
of Springtown are Introduced and We Get Better
Acquainted with Aunt Martha 20
CHAPTER THREE, In which the Springtown Gun-
club has an Outing, to which is Added an Ad-
venture with the Indians .^- 32
CHAPTER FOUR, Wherein the Boys Embark on a
Voyage of Discovery, and Take Possession of
their Findings 45
CHAPTER FIVE, In which the Boys of Springtown
Conduct a Story-telling Contest 58
CHAPTER SIX, Which Tells How the Boys Played
some Pranks, and Paid for Them 70
CHAPTER SEVEN, Wherein the Story-telling Contest
is Continued 82
CHAPTER EIGHT, In which the Circus Comes within
reach of Springtown 92
CHAPTER NINE, Which tells of the Circus Coming to
Springtown.....-^..— rrz^-^. 103
CHAPTER TEN, In which the Boys Become Interest-
ed in Theatricals, and Take Part in an Outing to
the Hills 113
CHAPTER ELEVEN, Wherein Ned and Will Spend an
Evening with "Old Man Hansen" with Mutual
CHAPTER TWELVE, In which the Bishop Talks to
the Boys, and William Wallace is Called upon
to Make a Sacrifice ■-. 137
CHAPTER THIRTEEN, In which Will Jones' Mother
Comes to Zion, and We Say Good-bye to the
Boys of Springtown 151
The Boys of Springtown.
In Which William Wallace Jones Arrives in the Land
of Opportunity and Meets Ned Fisher.
The boys of Springtown, for the most part, had
come to that village directly from heaven; William
Wallace Jones, however, came by way of Liverpool,
England, across the Atlantic ocean in the steerage
of the S, S, Nevada, then by rail from New York to
Wanda, and the remaining few miles by wagon. He
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
had enjoyed the ocean voyage, not having been sea-
sick, but the long rail-road journey was wearisome,
and the wagon which brought him from Wanda to
Springtown rattled uncomfortably over .the rocky
road. William Wallace Jones, therefore, arrived at
his destination in rather a jaded, untidy condition,
which, of course, he would not have done had he
come directly from heaven.
William Wallace had left his father and mother
in Liverpool. His mother was a saintly woman; his
father — well, the less said about him and his drink,
the better. An uncle, being about to emigrate to
America, offered to take the boy along. The mother,
and the father also in his sober moments, realizing
that this would be best for their son, gave their con-
sent. The boy himself, dimly sensing that his father's
hard life among the Liverpool docks was before him
also was glad of the opening to escape. Was not here
a chance to go to the land of Zion or America, which
is also the Land of Opportunity!
The reason why Uncle Josiah had chosen to come
to Springtown was because an acquaintance there had
written him an invitation to come. Before Josiah
Jones had moved to Liverpool, he had worked in the
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
coal mines of Wales. Wishing to escape this kind of
labor, he had joined his brother at the Liverpool
docks; but life was hard there also. He had written
to his friend in western America that he wanted to get
out into the open, and live the remainder of his life
in God's sunshine. The friend had replied that in
and about Springtown there were vast stores of fresh,
clean, sun-bathed mountain air to be had for the
breathing; and, as far as he knew, there were no ships'
docks or coal mines within a hundred miles. All this
appealed strongly to Josiah Jones and to his wife
Martha Jones, and — I suppose — to their only child,
little six-year old Gwennie. William Wallace, not
being consulted, expressed no opinion. How the head
of the family was to make a living in this new land
away from docks and mines had not worried Josiah
Jones. The Lord who gave the pure air and the sun-
shine would, no doubt, provide the bread and butter.
It was dark when the wagon containing the big
trunk, the bundles, and the emigrant family arrived
at their destination. The driver of the wagon, who
was the friend that had sent the invitation, had ex-
plained that he was sorry he could not take them to
his home, because one of the children had the measles;
10 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
80 the best that could be done for a few days was to
lodge them in the school house, then not in use. The
travelers gladly accepted any shelter to lay their
tired heads. After a good warm supper which the
good sisters of the Relief Society had provided, the
bedding was spread on the floor, a prayer of thanks-
giving for their safe arrival was said, and then they
blew out the lamp and went to bed.
William Wallace did not fall to sleep immediate-
ly as did the others. What a long trip it had been,
he thought! He had never before been away from his
mother more than a day or two, and now — she was on
the other side of the world from him. . . . How still
it was, after having lived all his life among noise. Not
a sound came to him, save now and then the clang of
a bell from some nearby yard. . . . What was mother
doing? It would be nearly morning now in England,
and she would be busy with his father's breakfast.
Oh, but she was a good mother — the best person on
the earth! He could have treated her much better
than he had; but regrets were vain now. She had
clung to him, and had cried so, and had kissed him
many times when he had left her. . . . The tears
came to the boy's cheeks, and he cried softly a little
while before he went to sleep.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 11
The boy was the first to awaken in the morning.
When he sat up and rubbed his eyes, the sun was
shining through the uncurtained window. Without
waking any of the others, he dressed, and went out
doors. He was curious to know to what kind of place
he had come.
What he saw differed from anything he had ever
before seen, save as he had caught gUmpses through
the car windows. He had surely come to one of the
"Valleys of the Mountains" of which he had heard
the missionary elders and his Uncle speak. His
imaginative picture of Springtown had been based
on a small section of Liverpool, and so he was sur-
prised to see no town at all, as he understood that
term. One street or road extended through the val-
ley, the lower hills on one side, the fields and meadows
on the other. Here and there, sometimes quite a dis-
tance apart, were houses; some of logs, a number of
rusty red brick, and a few of lumber which at some
time in the distant past, had been painted white.
Down in the lower part of the valley were patches of
brush and trees, fringing a stream. The lower hills
reached up to the distant mountains which were
more rugged, some of them pine-clad, and others
12 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
bearing in deep crevises patches of half -melted snow.
Above the sharp outlines of the mountains extended
the bluest sky the boy had ever seen, into which the
warm sun was now mounting. And the morning air!
How clear and cool and invigorating it was!
William Wallace walked through the gateway
and sauntered along a grass-bordered path which
led to the lower fields. He came to some pole bars
through which he slipped into a meadow. The grass
was wet with dew. A flock of birds was chattering
in the tree tops. He wondered whether or not he was
trespassing by walking on the grass; but there were
no paths pointed out, nor stiles to climb as there were
in the fields near Liverpool, as he had seen on the rare
occasions when he had visited them. The boy had
come into a new world. He seemed to feel that he
was freer here to come and to go as he pleased. He
was a Httle dazed, as a bird might be, which had been
released from the narrow confines of its cage.
The boy wandered somewhat aimlessly on until
he came to the river. From the grassy bank he
looked down into the clear water which here eddied
into a pool. A little further along it broke and tum-
bled over the stones, sending back the pleasant music
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 13
of splashing water, which sang itself into the heart of
the listening boy. Presently, he walked on down the
stream, passed the rapids to where the river widened,
then divided and flowed about an island amidstreams.
The island was covered with grass and brush, and the
boy could see that on the side nearest to him there
was a tiny cove with a pebbled beach.
The island appealed strongly to William Wallace
Jones. Some people might find a reason for this in
the fact that his grandfather had spent most of his
life cruising among the tropical islands of the South
Seas, and had poured many an interesting tale of
them into the young boy's listening ear. Be that as
it may, the boy was very much interested in his
new surroundings, and started out to see more of
In exploring a small forest of brush which skirted
the stream, William Wallace had to break his way
through some of the denser places, in doing which he
made considerable noise. Suddenly, he came out
on to a clear grassy plat near the water, and fairly
burst upon a boy who was fishing. As William Wal-
lace arrived rather abruptly, the fisher turned with a
scowling admonition for him to make less noise.
14 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"There, dam it!" exclaimed the boy with the
fishing rod/' a big fish was just goin' to bite, when you
scared it away. It was a whopper. Why — ?"
The question was not fully asked, as the boy
turned and saw that the intruder was not one of his
village companions. The two stood looking at each
other. The boy who had been fishing eyed William
Wallace from head to foot. He grinned, and then he
scowled. This new-comer must be shown his place
in that town right away. The fisher pulled his line
from the water, deliberately wrapped it about the
crooked willow rod, and stuck the hook, for safety,
into the soft bark. Then he stepped up to William
Wallace with a threatening attitude, and asked?
"Who are you, anyway?"
The other retreating slowly replied: "I just come,
sir. I — I didn't mean to disturb you."
"Ye didn't? Well, why didn't ye come by the
path, then, an' not make such a racket through the
brush? I've a good mind to punch yer head for
scarin' the fish."
William Wallace continued to retreat before the
other boy. He was not exactly frightened at the
strange behavior of the boy, but he was somewhat
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 15
startled at this his first encounter with the boys of
Springtown. William Wallace was not usually afraid
of boys of his own age and size, as those living in the
neighborhood of his Liverpool home could testify;
but this native son of America was certainly an
"odd un". He was about the English boy's age and
size. His face was sunburned and freckled. One sus-
pender held up his well-worn overalls. He had on
no hat, neither shoes nor stockings.
William Wallace did not know that the bank on
which he was backing toward the stream had been
undermined by the swiftly-flowing river a foot or
two under^the apparently firm sod. Neither did the
other boy know it, or he would not so jauntily have
followed the retreating boy and tapped him lightly
on the nose.
The new boy did not want to fight on the very
first day of his arrival in a strange land; but that ag-
gressive touch on his face angered him, and his right
fist shot out swiftly and hit his opponent's nose some-
what harder than his own had been. This angered
the assailant, who now pressed the other boy close
to the bank. As William Wallace felt the bank giving
away under his feet, he clunched the other boy firmly
16 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
by the arm. For a moment they swayed on the bank,
then both of them fell with a splash into the river.
Luckily, the boys fell feet first into the stream,
and as the water reached only up to their waists,
they scrambled out without much difficulty. William
Wallace, being more fully dressed than the other,
was heavily laden with water. A wet skin soon dries,
so the lightly-clad lad did not worry; but he grinned
at William Wallace as he said :
"Say, that was some wettin'. What ye get so
near the edge for? I was only kiddin' ye, anyway.
Say, what's yer name?"
"WilHam Wallace Jones."
"Gee! that's too long for Springtown. I'll call
ye Will on week days, an' William Wallace on Sun-
days. You just come over, didn't ye?"
"Over where, sir?"
"Why, from the Old Country. Ain't you the
kid what just come from England?"
"Oh, yes, sir — just last night."
"Are ye a fighter?"
"But ye can fight, can't ye?"
"Well, sir, when I have to."
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 17
"Say, I want ye to be on my side. My name is
Ned, Ned Fisher."
The other boy, not knowing just what this invita-
tion meant, did not reply. He was very wet and some-
what miserable. He must also be getting back to
the folks, for he would be missed.
"I think ril be going now," said Will.
"Say, ril go with ye. Fd better explain to your
ma that it wasn't your fault that ye got wet."
They found the path which led away from the
river to the field and up the road. The fisher's luck
had not been good that morning, his catch consisting
of only three small trout, now strung through their
gills by a willow. Could he give them to the new
boy to be used as a peace offering to his mother?
for he felt sure that the boy would be punished for
getting his clothes wet.
"Say, want some fish?"
"No, thank you," said William Wallace.
"Well, ye can have them. These are hardly
worth bringing home to our big family, besides,
I can catch some more. Better take 'em." He held
them out to the boy.
William Wallace took them, with thanks. The
18 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
folks were stirring at the school house. Uncle Josiah
had called on some of the neighbors for suggestions as
to the likely whereabouts of his nephew. Aunt
Martha stood on the steps, looking anxiously about.
The two boys slipped through the gate, but Ned
lingered near the fence, ready for retreat to safety,
should there be any need for flight. Aunt Martha
gazed in surprise at the boy before her, looking as if
he had waded waste deep in the river to catch the
fish dangling from the willow branch in his hand.
"William Wallace Jones, where have you been?"
demanded the woman.
"Just for a walk, down to the river, an' — "
"Well, how did you get so wet? Did you fall
in the river?'*
Evidently, there was no saving grace for him in
the offering of fish. He looked toward his companion
for the promised help.
"I pushed him in," volunteered Ned from a safe
distance. "It wasn't his fault."
Just then Uncle Josiah and one of the neighbors
came up. They heard Ned's confession, and saw him
immediately after take to his bare legs up the road.
The neighbor laughed good-naturedly at the wet boy,
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 19
slapped him on the back, and asked him how he Hked
his introduction to Springtown.
WiUiam Wallace might have felt very much ag-
grieved over his treatment at the hands of Ned Fisher
that morning, but somehow, he did not. He rather
liked the new acquaintance; so when the neighbor
repeated his question, Will replied:
As the neighbor had never been in England he
did not know that this exclamation meant in plain
western American, ''Bully", or in the more proper
English, "Very well, thank you."
In Which some more of the Boys of Springtown Are
Introduced and We Get Better Acquainted
with Aunt Martha.
About a month after the arrival of the English
boy, a group of boys was sitting on the hitching pole
in front of the Springtown store. This was a favorite
gathering place, it being somewhat in the center of
the village and also an advantageous point of obser-
vation for whatever might be going on. That after-
noon no teams were tied to the pole and no men were
lounging by, so the boys had their perch all to them-
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 21
selves; and there were seven of them, sitting all in a
row like so many chattering magpies on a fence.
William Wallace Jones, now usually called Will,
was the last to arrive. Ned Fisher made room for
him. Ned had taken him under his patronizing care,
which had given him a prestige with the boys which
otherwise he would not have acquired so readily.
And as they are all balancing so comfortably on
that hitching pole, it might be a good time to intro-
duce these boys, if only by name.
Usually, there is some accounting for names, but
sometimes there isn't.
Will Jones, boy number one, having already oc-
cupied most of Chapter One, needs but little more
said of him; only that he was fast acquiring the ways
of the boys about him, being nearly as much a Spring-
town boy as those who had lived there all their lives.
His overalls and his bare legs evidenced the fact that
he was being acclimated.
Ned Fisher sat next to Will. Ned was one of the
recognized leaders in the Springtown boy-world.
He was given to "bossing", but, as a rule, he was quite
fair both in fight or frolic. How Charles Thomas
Fisher, the boy's name, came to be shortened to Ned,
22 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
has never yet come to light. He was always known
among the boys as Ned.
Next to Ned sat James Brown. Fate and the
boys permitted him to be called Jim.
Slim Larsen perched next to Jim. His name in
the roll book at school was plain Nels, short enough,
surely, to suit the most exacting for brevity. He
might have been permitted to carry his good Danish
name had it not been for the fact that he was a short,
plump chap, and someone at a psychological moment
had called him Slim. Nels' mother had strenuously
objected to this new name, not realizing that the
harder one tries to pull away, a nick-name, the faster
The next boy was Richard Johnson. H<^ had a
narrow escape from being permanently called "^''
During the early stages of his learning to play n..
bles, he had acquired the habit of saying ''slips"
whenever he made a poor shot. The boys had re-
sented this effort to cover up bad markmanship by
sometimes calling him Slips. However, just now, the
rightful Dick was on the ascendency.
The boy next to Dick had a grandfather named
Zephaniah, who, according to all reports, was a very
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 23
good man. Wishing to honor this parent and per-
chance to pass on his goodness to a grandson, the
parents had named the boy Zephaniah. Although
this name gave itself splendidly to calling when his
mother summoned him from his play to chop wood,
it was altogether too long and high-sounding for the
boys, who liked Zeph better, as also did the boy him-
John Johns sat next. He had been born of and
christened by good Welsh parents who did not real-
ize that the chief reason for a name is ^hat it might
help to distinguish qu^ person from another. The
boys, however, corrected this Welsh sameness by
calling him Jack.
Anid'SO in all this naming, the boys of Spring-
^^''^^ .ao all boys do, came to the root of the matter
, r-.^ave names to persons and things about them
in the natural, primitive way in which all names had
their beginning — and who shall quarrel with them for
A wagon came rattling down the road. The
boys paused in their chatter to see which one of them
would be pushed off to give room for the tie-rope;
but the driver stopped at the post office instead.
24 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"Say, Will," asked one of the boys, "how big is
Will was an authority on ships. All the boys
listened. Ships v/ere interesting things.
"Well, the one I came on was a big one", de-
It was hard to explain. Will looked about for
some object of comparison.
"As big as the store?"
The boys grunted disbelievingly.
"Was you sick?"
"Was it a sailing ship or a steamer?"
"How long was you on the sea?"
"About two weeks."
"Shucks, my grandfather was six weeks when
he came over."
"Say, what do they have to eat on board ships?"
"Do they have cows, an' milk?"
"Was it stormy?"
"How high are the waves?"
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 25
Zeph only had not asked a question. His mind
was not on the distant sea, but on something nearer
home. It was his turn to ask:
"Say, boys, do you know the Indians are campin'
again across the river?''
"No! are they?"
"Yep. I was over there yesterday, an' say — "
The boys shd down from their perch and gather-
ed more closely about Zeph who also jumped down.
They all went across the road to the ditch bank and
"I think it's the same band that was here last
summer," continued Zeph; "an' ye know, they was
a wild lot."
"Let's go over tomorrow," suggested Jim.
"Let's," repeated a number.
Some of the boys had their doubts whether or
not they could go. Will being among them. When
pressed for a reason why, he explained that he had to
"Work!" a number shouted in derision. "Will's
got to work!"
It should be explained that the Jones family
had moved out of the school house and now occupied
26 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
a small dwelling not far from Ned Fisher^s home.
Here was a small lot to till. Potatoes had been plant-
ed, and they were now in a condition to be hoed,
which was the work mentioned by Will. School was
now out, and the boys were reveling in the lengthen-
ing summer days. Work? well, one might as well
think of harnessing up a young colt.
"Say, do ye remember when the big Injun came
right into town with his gun?" asked Slim.
"Yes, an' some of the kids was scared/'
"I should say. Why, Georgie Small ran an' hid
in the willows back of the house, an' his mother
couldn't find him for a long time."
"Well, them Indians are supposed to be tame,"
said Zeph with an air of superior knowledge, "but
ye can't depend on 'em. Why Jef Redden said he
knew they stole his horses last year, an' ye know — "
"Zeph-a-ni-ah!" came rolling in distinct and
emphatic syllables from across the Stephens' lot.
Zeph instantly arose, and without saying anything
further about his own bravery, which the boys knew
was coming, he trotted down the dusty road toward
home. Some of the boys laughed at Zeph's sudden
departure. They knew the reason, and they were
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 27
enjoying to the full their mothers' leniency in letting
them remain on the ditch-bank a little longer.
When the boys parted for the night Ned went
along with Will. Ned's fondness for the English boy
had grown ever since that first meeting by and in the
river. He chummed with him, that being easier be-
cause of the nearness of their homes.
"Gee, I wish you could go with us tomorrow,"
"I'll ask Aunt Martha," replied Will as he went
in the house.
Ned stopped at the gate as was his custom. He
had never yet ventured in the house. A whistle
from the sidewalk always brought Will out if it were
possible for him to come. Now Ned waited patiently
in silence for some time. Presently, Will reappeared.
"Can ye go?" asked Ned.
"I don't know yet. Come in."
"No; I don't want to." Ned held back.
"Oh, come on in; Aunt Martha says you're to."
Ned hesitated. He said he must be going home.
"Come on", urged Will. "Only Aunt Martha's
home, an' she wont hurt you. She wants to see you,
she says, an' maybe she'll let me go if you'll come in."
28 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
A sense of importance helped to overcome Ned's
timidity. He followed his friend into the house. He
looked about him in surprise. The last time he had
been in that room was when it was empty and desert-
ed and dirty. Now everything was neat and clean
and cosy. Aunt Martha said, "How do you do?"
and Will gave him a chair.
"William Wallace has been asking me if he might
go with you boys tomorrow" began Aunt Martha;
"but I wanted to know how he was going to hoe the
potatoes and at the same time run wild with a lot of
lazy boys. He couldn't tell me; perhaps you can."
Ned was dumb at this. He wished he was safely
out of the house again. The woman stood looking
at him as if she expected him to answer. Ned hung
his head. She must be terribly angry, he thought;
but when he timidly glanced up at her, he saw some-
thing like a smile on her face.
"Do you want William Wallace to go with you?"
Ned managed to say that he did.
"Well, there is a way he might be able to go."
"What's that?" cried Will.
"Why, by having the potatoes hoed first". She
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 29
was still looking at Ned as if her words were intended
solely for him. "If / wanted very much to have some-
one go with me, Td do something to help him. Four
boys with four hoes can do as much in one hour as
one boy with one hoe can do in four hours," she said
as if repeating a problem in arithmetic. She then
turned to Will as if she were through with the matter.
"I nearly forgot. Here's a letter from your mother."
She handed the boy a letter addressed to him, and
therefore, unopened. Will took it to the window near
which Ned was sitting, opened the letter, and silent-
ly read it.
**Well, what does she say?" asked Aunt Martha.
"Read it to me."
Will held out the letter to her, but she did not
"The light is too poor," she explained, "I cannot
The boy, somewhat reluctantly, read :
" Now, my boy, I hope you are well, and
that you are enjoying yourself in your new home.
Do what Uncle Josiah and Aunt Martha want you
to. Some day you will more fully appreciate how
blessed you are in living in Zion. Your father has
30 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
been out of work for some time, and he is not well;
but the Lord is good to us, and we are able to live.
My constant prayer is that I might some day come
to you, so that I might live with my hoy a little while
yet before he becomes a man. God bless you and keep
you from evil. Remember the Lord in your prayers,
and do not forget your father and mother "
The reader stopped. Perhaps the light was too
dim. The room was very quiet for a few moments.
Ned could see that Will was going to cry, although
he was trying hard not to, so he edged quietly to the
door and slipped out. Then Will did cry.
Aunt Martha busied herself with supper. When
it was ready she and Gwennie and Will sat down and
ate their bread and milk. Uncle Josiah was not with
them as his work took him away from home much of
the time. The little girl prattled, the mother smiled
contentedly, but Will was silent. He really was
homesick. He longed for his mother; and the dim,
dirty streets of Liverpool did not seem so bad after
all. He finished his bowl, however, and did not re-
fuse the cookie for dessert. When the meal was end-
ed, Aunt Martha said:
"All right, my boy. As you want to get up early
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 31
in the morning to begin on the potatoes, you had
better go to bed now. Take your letter with you and
put it in your box. You will want to read it again
some day. Now, good night", and she patted him
gently on the head.
Will went up to the well- ventilated attic where
was his bed. Before he fell asleep he saw through
the glassless window the stars come out one by one
into the clear, dark-blue sky; and then, ere he was
aware, the frogs in the nearby meadow had sung
him off to the land of dreamless sleep.
In Which the Springtown Gun-cluh Has an Outing,
to Which is Added an Adventure with the Indians.
Aunt Martha's little problem in arithmetic
worked out correctly, for next morning three boys
with their hoes came into the lot where Will was
working, ranged themselves alongside, and plied their
tools vigorously. Aunt Martha looked out at them
once in a while to see that the work was done right.
Just before noon, they had gone over the whole patch,
and they came strutting up to the house with a self-
satisfied air. Aunt Martha invited them to sit on
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 33
the porch and rest while she brought from the kitch-
en a pan of newly-baked, sweet-smelHng cookies
which she placed right under their noses. She
looked at Ned Fisher with a gracious smile, and said :
"I thought you would do it. Now, you may
have the first cake.''
Ned did not understand the full extent of the
first part of this remark; but there was no question
regarding what she meant by the latter part. The
cookies were passed around once, twice, then Aunt
Martha suggested that if they ate any more, they
would spoil their appetite for dinner. She further
suggested that the remaining cakes be placed in a
bag and taken along on their afternoon trip.
Shortly after noon. Will Jones, Ned Fisher, Jim
Brown, and Dick Johnson were on their way across
the river to visit the Indian camp. Zeph (though
yesterday's chief promoter of the trip ) and a num-
ber of others had failed them for various reasons,
chief of which was that they had not accepted Ned's
invitation to meet that morning with their hoes in
Will's potato patch. Huh! They didn't have to hoe
potatoes, so they had kept away altogether.
Ever since Ned Fisher could remember, it had
34 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
been his ambition to own a gun. There were ducks to
shoot in the swamps near the river and there were
sage-hens in the hills. Some of the older hunters of
Springtown told wonderful tales of deer and bear up
in the mountains, but Ned's fondest dreams had not
yet reached to such game.
Ned now had a shot-gun. A week ago he had
traded for it with Blacksmith Goodall, giving in
exchange ten fairly good, second-hand horse shoes
and one discarded wagon tire. The horse shoes
usually brought five cents each from the smith, while
the tire was perhaps worth ten cents. To be sure,
this gun was not in the best of condition. The barrel
was rusty, the stock had a big crack in it, the hammer
would not hold up, and there was no ramrod. These
minor defects were soon overcome by the enthusiastic
owner and his willing assistants. The barrel was
scrubbed, inside and out, until it fairly shone. A wire
was made to hold the stock together. A ramrod was
easy to make from a piece of hickory which they found
in the rubbish heap at the back of the blacksmith
shop. A cow's horn was made into a powder flask,
and Ned's marble bag held a small supply of shot.
The boys had the gun, with all that went with it,
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 36
that afternoon. There had been some discussion
whether it would be wise to take along such a weapon
when visiting Indians. The Redmen might think
the fire-arm was meant for them, when in fact, it
was only to shoot sage-hens, should any be seen.
"Anyway," Ned had said, "it might be a good thing
to have a gun along in case the Indians became
'sassy'." At hearing this remark, Jim didn't know
whether he could go or not. His mother
Ned looked at Jim and laughed so goodnatur-
edly that the boy's courage came back — likewise that
of William Wallace Jones. Had Aunt Martha known
that they were to have a gun along, he was sure she
would not have given him permission to go.
It was Ned's unquestionable right as owner to
carry the gun, but he graciously permitted the other
boys to carry the armament. They went on down
the lane, across the meadow to the river.
"Le' me carry the gun," pleaded Dick.
"It's heavy", objected Ned.
"Shucks, I can carry it easy."
"You might hurt yourself."
"Taint loaded, is it?"
"No; but — here, you can carry the ramrod."
86 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
The river was rising to its annual spring flood,
and the foot-bridge which spanned the stream
trembled under their feet. Safely across, they climbed
to a small table-land covered with choke-cherry
bushes. They inspected the growing crop of berries,
and planned for picking trips later.
"There ought to be some chickens here/' re-
"Yes/' agreed Ned. Let's look out for them."
They walked about stealthily. Will did not say
much. This was a new experience for him, and he
was content to follow the leadership of those who
seemed to know all about the game.
"Say," whispered Jim, "There's something
over there on that bush. See."
They all looked carefully.
"Shucks, that's a robin," said Ned.
"Well, why don't ye shoot it?"
"Shoot a robin. I guess not. What're you
talking about?" This was said with such scorn that
the subject was dropped.
Then, after a time. Will ventured: "Suppose you
see a chicken. Is your gun loaded?"
No; it wasn't. They all laughed foolishly.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 37
*'We're a lot of sillies," suggested Ned; whereupon
they proceeded to load the gun. First, the proper
amount of powder was poured into the barrel and
rammed down with newspaper wadding. Then the
shot was run in and fastened with more of the paper,
after which the cap was placed on the priming tube.
"Now, you boys stay back of me," admonished
the gun bearer.
They stalked about among the bushes for a time.
"Sh — ! there's a sage-hen."
Ned tiptoed toward the bush indicated, and sure
enough, there a sage-hen could be seen. The excite-
ment became tense. Ned motioned for the boys to
be still while he crept up within easy range. His
finger touched the trigger, then he carefully lifted
the hammer. Gee! The fact suddenly came to him
that the hammer would not stay up! He could not
aim, hold up the hammer, and pull the trigger at the
same time. He must have help; he beckoned for one
of the boys to come. Jack crept softly to him. Ned
whispered his instructions to him; he was to hold
up the hammer while Ned sighted the gun. "An'
don't let go till I tell ye."
When it came to aiming the gun, Ned found to
S8 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
his dismay that he could not close his left eye while
he sighted with his right. Everything became a blur
when he tried to look along the barrel with both eyes.
The sage-hen was unaware of danger. With Jack's
help to hold up both the gun and the hammer, Ned
managed to relieve one hand long enough to press his
fingers against his left eye and thus make aiming
clear. Jack was becoming nervous, and he was in
danger of releasing the hammer before he was told.
The gun wabbled considerably. The marksman had
to open both eyes a number of times during all this
maneuvering to see if the sage-hen was still on the
perch. Yes, the bird was very patient with the boys.
At last Ned saw the object of their aim straight
along the barrel. ''Let 'er go," he said.
There was a loud report, a cloud of smoke, and
two boys tumbled over backwards. A flock of sage-
hens flew out of the bush.
Will and Jim came running up. "Did ye hit
her?" they shouted. The four boys sped fonvard.
The hen at which they had shot should have been
lying dead under the branch on which it had been
sitting, but it wasn't. The boys were very much dis-
appointed, and Ned especially was inclined to blame
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 39
somebody else for the failure to bring down the game.
They looked about, and there, quite on the other side
of the bush at which they had been shooting, lay a
sage-hen. Ned picked it up. It flopped faintly once
or twice, and then became limp.
Indians were forgotten. With such success in
hunting, what was a mere visit to an Indian camp!
There might be more sage-hens to kill. They loaded
the gun again and walked for a long time over the
bench-land; but they saw no more game.
From the edge of the bench they looked down on
a small creek bottom, a tributary of the river, where
the Indian camp was located. They counted five
tents or "wikiups", from two of which smoke was
curling. Some horses were grazing nearby, and a
number of Indian women and children could be seen
As the boys stood looking at the camp, the
question of whether or not to take the gun with them,
came up again.
"Where could we leave it?" asked Ned.
"We might hide it in some bushes.''
"And have some one find it and claim it. Not
much," objected the owner.
40 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"The chicken will show what we brought the
gun for/' suggested Jim; and as this appealed to them
all, both the gun and the game were carried boldly
into the Indian camp.
In those days it was the custom nearly every
summer for a small party of Indians to camp for
some time near the village. Seemingly, the main
purpose of their annual visit was that the squaws
might call at the doors and beg for "sooger" and
"biscuit". Certainly, they had no evil designs nor
dispositions, notwithstanding some of the fears of the
children and the talk of the boys.
There was always a degree of fascinating awe to
the boys about a visit to an Indian camp. As the
boys looked about, the Indians sometimes scowled
at them and made gi-uff noises as though they were
displeased, and considered the boys intruders. This
afternoon as the boys inspected the tents at re-
spectable distances they saw strips of red meat hanging
about to dry, and the squaws were busy cleaning and
scraping skins. A deer had no doubt been recently
killed. A number of half-naked "papooses" were
running about. At the near approach of the boys,
they scurried to their mothers who looked up uncon-
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 41
cerned at their visitors, then said something, no
doubt by way of admonition, to the children.
In one of the tents they saw a number of Indians
sitting about a cleared space on the floor, playing
some kind of game. A droning noise accompanied
"What are they doing?'^ asked Will.
"Gambling", repHed Ned. "an' they're ugly
when they gamble."
The Indians saw the boys watching them, and
they seemed to cease their game. They said some-
thing to each other, and then one of them arose, and
pulHng his blanket about him, came to where the boys
were standing, now somewhat frightened.
"What you want?" asked the Indian.
"Nothing — we-re just visitin'," replied Ned.
"Huh! You Bishop's boy?" questioned the In-
dian, pointing to Ned.
"No," said Ned.
"What got?" He looked at the dead sage-hen
which evidently did not interest him. Then he
reached for the gun. "Me see", he said.
Ned, with quaking heart, handed the Indian his
gun. Was he merely going to keep it, or was he going
42 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
to use it on them? The Indian looked the weapon
over, then with a contemptous grunt, he handed it
"No good," he said as he turned and rejoined
his companions, much to the reHef of the boys, who
now went on to where a squaw sat working beads on
some moccasins. The boys of Springtown beHeved
that all beads came from the Indians, who by some
mysterious process of manufacture, supplied the
world with these articles of ornamentation. It oc-
curred to Dick that now would be a good time to get
a supply of beads, so he approached the squaw, busy
with her sewing, held out his hand, and said :
The woman merely looked up and grunted
"Give beads," he repeated.
The squaw caught sight of the bag of cookies
which Dick carried. She became curious. She looked
steadily at it, then pointed to it, then asked:
"Oh, they're cookies", said Dick.
"Biscuit? Let see."
Dick, to the astonishment of Ned and Jim, gave
THE BOYS OF SFRINGTOWN. 43
the squaw the bag. She looked in, then took out a
cookie, and began to eat it.
"Heap wino," she seemed to say as she finished
one cake and took out another.
"Beads," pleaded Dick. Surely she would give
him some beads for the cookies.
"Say," began Ned protestingly ; he did not care
for beads as much as he did for something good to
But just then there came a strange noise from up
the ravine, and presently, there appeared three In-
dians on horses, riding at a gallop, their blankets
flying in the breeze. The Indians whooped lustily
as they came on toward the boys.
All the tales of wild Indians which the boys had
ever read or heard came to them. For a moment
they stood rooted to the spot, then they turned and
dashed down toward the river and home. Though
Ned held tightly his precious gun and Jim clung on
to the sage-hen, they led the retreat, with Will and
Dick close at their heels. It is hardly to be expected
that twelve and fourteen year old boys can beat the
tough Indian ponies, but the truth is that after five
minutes running, the boys had outdistanced their
44 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
pursuers. They covered the distance to the bridge
in record time; and it was not until they had reached
the village side of the river that they stopped to rest
and talk in bated breaths of their narrow escape.
However, the boys did not see the three Indians
who had been in the chase now standing by their
ponies and talking to the squaw who had been sew-
ing beads on moccasins. They were smihng good-
naturedly — if Indians can smile — as each of them
munched a cookie.
Wherein the Boys Embark on a Voyage of Discovery
and Take Possession of Their Findings.
"I have learned," said Aunt Martha to her
neighbor, Mrs. Fisher, ''that boys hoe potatoes best
when the rows are short, and they pick potatoes best
when the buckets are small."
The two women were having a chat across the
partition fence, about their family affairs. Ned was
only one out of six of Mrs. Fisher's cares and prob-
"Boys," continued Aunt Martha, "are only a
46 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
little more human than men and women. There is
nothing quite so discouraging as to begin a task to
which there is no visible end. We all need endings
and new beginnings in our work, and that, I have
no doubt, is the reason why the Lord broke up the
days into periods of seven, and appointed the seventh
as a day of rest.
y "I asked the Bishop once," remarked Mrs. Fish-
er, "whether the law of the Sabbath was not made
before the creation of woman, or rather before she
was thought of."
"Yes; what did he say to that?"
i "He only laughed."
"Well, ril say for my man, he's very considerate.
But what I wanted to speak to you about was our
boys. William Wallace and your boy Ned are to-
gether nearly all the time. I don't object to that,
but I think they should have some work to do each
day, before they, with the other boys, begin their
play. 'All play and no work, makes Jack a dull
"And I've noticed," said Mrs. Fisher, "that my
Ned works better in your lot and your boy Will
works better in ours." ^
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 47
'Tes, that's another bit of boy nature which we
cannot check, but must take advantage of, by letting
the boys work together on their various tasks,'' re-
marked Aunt Martha.
The neighbors came closer together. Mrs.
Fisher agreed with Mrs. Jones, but she was at a loss
how to get at the problem. Mrs. Jones made some
suggestions which could be carried out, and which
had in them the idea of giving the boys some definite
tasks each day, not too long and with something of
encouragement at the close.
And thus it came about that the boys' excursions
and doings at home and away were usually limited
to the afternoons after the morning tasks had been
done. At first, some of the boys gambled a little
at this new and fast ruling, but soon they discovered
that the fun in the afternoons was much better be-
cause of the work in the mornings.
It was now the period of high water in the river,
when its swift, brown current overflowed the banks
and filled the lowlands with muddy ponds. This
year, there was a tie-float in the river; that is, a com-
pany of men had chopped a large number of rail-road
ties up among the forests at the head-waters of the
48 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
river, and were now floating them down to where they
could be loaded on the railroad cars.
The passing of this tie-float by Springtown was
always a time of interest to the boys. Ties could be
seen shooting down the river some days before the
men came. Some of them would lodge on sand-bars
or circle about in sheltered pools until so many had
collected that there would be a jam. Then the men
would come, dressed in hip boots and red flannel
shirts, and with long, spiked poles dislodge the ties
and send them on down the current. Sometimes the
men would have to jump from ties to ties at the risk
of falling into the water, and the boys could readily
see that much skill and bravery were needed in this
work. Zeph said he was going to be tie-man, and some
of the smaller boys envied his nearer approach to such
a wonderful career.
The men would camp on the banks of the river
at the place where night overtook them. That sum-
mer the camp was made at Springtown, and the boys
turned out in force to watch the fires over which
swung big kettles wherein boiled and baked the men's
supper. The boys, alas, could feast only with their
eyes as they saw the men sit about the fire and eat.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 49
The next afternoon when the boys arrived at the
river, the ties and the men were out of sight and
reach, and so the boys had to content themselves
with looking about. At a point a short distance above
the island, they found two big ties, firmly lodged and
safely hidden behind some bushes. It was generally
understood that such leavings became the property
of the finder. At least four boys saw these ties at the
same time, and so, to avoid any disputes as to owner-
ship, it was agreed that they should be the common
property of them all.
What could be done with them? Ah, what
couldn't be done? First, however, they would have
to be dislodged, as the water was falling, and soon
they would be high and dry.
"Robinson Crusoe made a boat out of a tree,"
said Will," and when it was finished he couldn't get
it to the water. We don't want to be in that fix."
"Who was Robinson Crusoe?" asked one of them.
"Well, don't you know?" replied another. "He
lived on an island." '
Will had been looking at the island in mid-
streams. He wanted to go to it. The spirit of the
navigator came to him. Often he had watched the
50 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
big ocean liners glide up the Mersey and lay up to
the Liverpool dock. There was fascination about a
"Let's make a raft out of the ties and go over to
the island," suggested Will.
The boys readily agreed. They had never been
to the island, and the idea of floating to it was novel.
How could they do it?
Will explained. They would first have to float
the ties into still, shallow water. Then they would
get some boards and nail them across the ties. This
would make a "dandy" raft on which they could sail
to the island and take possession of it and explore it
as Robinson Crusoe had done.
Some of the boys were dispatched for boards,
some for nails and a hammer and a piece of rope.
By the time Will and Ned had pried the ties loose
into the water, the boys returned laden with boards
of all sizes and conditions and nails in all stages of
rustiness. The ship-building progressed with great
enthusiasm, and it was not long before the craft was
pronounced finished. It was found that four of the
boys could safely board it. Who should make the
trial trip? Will, of course, should be one, having had
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 61
experience with boats and water travel. Three
others made up the crew. Each supplied himself
with a long pole, and the craft was pushed out into
the stream toward the island, the other boys following
and shouting gleefully from the bank. Will Jones,
Captain and Pilot, directed the boys to steer into
the little harbor he had noted even on the morning
of his first visit to the river. Soon the raft grated on
the sandy beach and the boys leaped ashore with
'This is Peaceful Bay," said Will Jones, with
the true instinct of a discoverer; and as he climbed
up to the highest point of the island, he declared:
"and this is Point Lookout.'* As the raft seemed
slow in coming back, the boys on the bank shouted
that they wanted to go over also. Three trips
brought the whole company safely to the island.
From Point Lookout a tiny meadow sloped west-
ward. On one side a few willows cast their shade,
on the other side the main channel of the river rushed
by. Later in the summer, the httle harbor would
make a fine bathing pool. The boys lay contentedly
on the grass.
''Say, this is a dandy place, isn't it?" remarked
52 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"Let's make a camp here", suggested another.
"We can make a willow house."
"There ain't enough willows on the island."
"Besides, we want them to grow for shade."
"We can bring some willows from the bank on
"Sure," they all chorused.
But as they were not prepared for further build-
ing operations that afternoon, the boys had to be con-
tent with planning their work for tomorrow, and then
rafting themselves back to the main-land.
The next afternoon more boys were on hand to
take part in the activities on the island. Out of the
eight present, there were six bosses, and each of these
tried by the use of lung power to establish his claim to
leadership. Among these who might rightly be called
guests were Charley Voss, a cripple, and his dog,
Sport, and nine-year old Bose Rankin. Sport, though
belonging to Charley, readily came at the beck and
call of any of the boys, so he was looked upon as com-
By the middle of the afternoon, the willows had
been cut, transported to the island, and made into a
shelter as nearly like an Indian "wickiup" as pos-
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 53
sible. It was shady and cool within, and the boys
stretched themselves in luxurious ease on its grassy
''We ought to have a fire," was suggested.
"It's warm enough without one," said Will.
"But, it's not a camp without a fire, is it?"
^No; of course not."
There was some discussion whether to make the
fire inside the tent or outside. It was more in keep-
ing with the wild life they were living to have a fire
within the tent, but the majority were satisfied to
sacrifice realism for comfort, so the fire was made a
few feet from the shelter so that those who reclined
within could look out and see it.
After the boys had rested and talked for a time,
they become aware of a continual barking of Sport
from the direction of Peaceful Bay. Perhaps the
dog saw "something", whereupon there was a general
movement to Point Lookout. From that elevation
they saw that Charley Voss and his dog were on the
raft which Zeph Stevens was alternately pushing out
some distance from the shore with a pole and then
pulHng back by the rope. The dog was barking loud-
ly, while the boy was crying and pleading with his
54 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
tormentor. Most of the boys laughed with Zeph at
the fun he was having; but somehow, Ned didn't
like what the bigger boy was doing. Ned went down
to the water and said to Zeph:
"Let him alone."
Zeph went on teasing.
"You let him alone," repeated Ned. "Pick on
somebody your size."
"Oh, you go 'long."
The boys were interested. Zeph was the biggest
boy there, and they all knew that Ned was no match
for him if it came to a fight. What could Ned do?
But Ned persisted. He grabbed the rope and at-
tempted to take it from the larger boy, who exclaim-
"Say, get out o' here! What ye mean? Let go."
"I won't, an' you can't make me. You quit
scaring Charley, you — you big coward."
Zeph flushed. "I'll Hck you good fer that," he
"Then you'll have to whip me, too," said Will as
he ranged himself alongside of Ned. "I think you're
mean to tease a cripple."
There was a silence for a moment among them.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 55
Then the boys shouted. Of course, the two boys were
in the right, for Zeph couldn't whip both of them.
Zeph muttered and let go the rope which also slipped
from Ned's hands. The raft drifted slowly out to-
ward the current in the river. Charley cried the
louder while the dog only whined.
The boys became exicted. In a few minutes
Charley would be in real danger. Then Ned rolled
up his overalls and waded out after the raft. It was
only a matter of getting his legs wet and the roll in
his overalls soaked. Ned soon had the rope again and
Charley and Sport were safely landed.
But the matter was not yet settled. Someone
had offended, and had not been punished. Something
was imperfect, something was lacking in the scheme
of things. The boys seemed to feel it, though they
knew not what to say or do about it. Zeph tried to
laugh it off, but the boys did not respond. They all
went back to the willow lodge, Charley keeping close
to Ned, and the dog close at the heels of his master.
The conversation lagged.
"I think Zeph has done wrong," began Ned,
"and he ought to 'pologize."
Zeph began to talk of something else, but Ned
56 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"I read once in a story where some men were
cast on an island, an' they had to make laws, an*
'lect officers. We're like that when we're here.
''Sure." The idea appealed to them.
"I think Zeph ought to be 'rested and tried,"
"I motion that Dick be the pohceman," said one.
"I motion that Will be the judge," cried another.
"All in favor raise their hands — your 'lected."
''Zeph Stevens, you're 'rested" said the police-
The judge tried to look solemn and wise. He
knew nothing about court procedure, but as he knew
all the facts, he immediately passed judgment.
"Zeph Stephens," he said, "you are guilty, and you
are fined a quarter."
"Haint got a quarter," rephed the prisoner;
"wouldn't give it if I had."
"In place of the quarter, which would have been
handy to buy some things for our camp, you can give
your pocket knife," pronounced the judge.
"Or be ducked three times in the river. That is
the law of this island."
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 57
Zeph again tried to treat it all as a joke, but the
boys stood firmly by the law and the judge. With
Ned and Will as leaders, they could easily give- the
boastful Zeph a ducking. They made ready to do it,
when Zeph weakened. He pulled out his knife and
handed it to Will, who offered it to Charley.
''I don't want it," said he. ''I only want him to
leave me alone.''
*'Will you promise to do that?" asked Will of
"Now and always?"
"Well, then, it's all right. Here, take your
And thus the balance of things was restored, and
the boys were all jolly good fellows again as if
nothing unpleasant had ever happened.
In Which the Boys of Springtown Conduct a Story-
The water in the river was clear and warm, fine
for bathing. Peaceful Bay made an ideal swimming
hole, and the boys made good use of it. They would
"wet over", then splash about for a time, and then
crawl up on the sunny sand bank and "dry off".
Sometimes this would be repeated half a dozen times
during an afternoon, so that when their clothes went
on for the day, the boys would appear pretty well
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 59
Frequently, when resting from the afternoon's
strenuous bathing, they would tell each other stories.
A number of the boys were readers of dime novels
which they had obtained from the larger boys, who
had bought them at Wanda. These thrilling tales
were circulated among the boys who cared for reading.
As a rule, the parents did not investigate closely what
this literature consisted of. It was "reading", and the
boy had better be quietly reading than to be up to
some noisy devilment, the parents reasoned.
The boys soon came to know that the chief in-
gredients of a dime novel are these: The story is laid
in the wild West. The characters are the hero, a
brave young man from the East; the heroine, a beau-
tiful girl; an old trapper, who is also a philosopher;
a renegade (bad) white man; Indians; cowboys, good
and bad. The beautiful girl is captured by the bad
white man, aided by the Indians. The hero gives
chase over plains and hills and deserts, and after a lot
of fighting, the girl is rescued. Usually, there is a
gold mine, which in the end, makes the hero rich and
enables him to marry the girl and pay all the expenses
of such an extravagant adventure.
By a little shifting of scenes and characters, the
60 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
boys of Springtown could tell these tales over and
over. Ned Fisher was not much of a story-teller, but
Will Jones, as well as some of the others, could spin
out a yarn endlessly. When it came to his turn, the
boys often accused him of "making up'' the story.
Not being very well acquainted with the American
dime novel, Will's stories did not deal with the
wild, western life.
Now, an island, with all that pertains to it, had
always appealed to Will. An island on the map was
to most of the boys only a black spot in an ocean of
blue; but to Will, that dot became associated with
the natives of the South Seas, or with Napoleon at
St. Helena, or with Robinson Crusoe; and then the
dry text of the geography changed to a garden of
charm. Will liked to tell stories of islands, some of
which he did not deny ''making up out of his own
This afternoon Will was telling such a story.
His hero, one Jack Tarpin, had just been ship-
wrecked on a South Sea island:
''Well, Jack he walked up into the land and found
that the island was inhabited by wild people, savages
who were nearly naked and who carried long wooden
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 61
spears. Jack was scared, so he hid in the bushes and
watched them dancing about in a circle. Pretty soon
they stopped, and one of them went into a hut and
brought out a beautiful native maiden. They tied
the girl to a big stake, and then began to pile up
brush near her. They were cannibals, and were going
to kill and eat the girl. Jack could hear her cry.
"Jack crept slowly forward, thinking how he
could save the girl. I forgot to say that Jack had a
gun, but he couldn't kill a whole tribe with it. Pretty
soon, they seemed ready to kill the girl. The savages
stood in a circle about her, and they began to make
a terrible noise. This was to drown the cries of the
girl as they were killing her. Then one of the savages
stepped out into the circle with a big club. He walked
slowly toward the poor victim. Jack raised his gun
and aimed at the man, and just as he was going to
strike her. Jack pulled the trigger.
*'The savage dropped dead. The others saw him,
but did not know what had killed him. They were
making so much noise that they didn't hear the report
of the ^n. Another one of them now stepped into
the ring with a club, and just as he was going to kill
the girl, Jack shot him too. Then the cannibals be-
62 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
came very scared, for this time they heard the shot
and saw the smoke, so Jack thought it would be a
good time to rescue the beautiful maiden. He ran
to her, and with his knife cut the thongs which bound
her. She said something to him, which, of course, he
could not understand; and as he was about to leave,
she followed him.
Jack fired his gun again, this time into the air,
to show the savages that he was the one who had
killed their men. At this, the savages became so
scared that they ran away. But pretty soon they
returned, threw down their spears, and lay down on
their faces before him. He motioned to them to get
up and bring him something to eat. They brought
him some cocoanuts and fish, and he gave some of the
food to the girl.
"Well, Jack stayed with them and made them be-
have themselves, and he made them build him a
house and bring him something to eat each day. The
girl lived in a hut near by. After a while when he
could understand her talk, he learned that she was
the daughter of a king who had lived and reigned on
another island. The two tribes were at war. This
tribe had gone to the other island, and in a great
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 63
battle the king had been killed. The victors had eat-
en the king because they believed that by eating a
brave man like the king, they also would become
"Jack was now quite contented and comfor-
table, living like a king on the island; but the girl
kept coming to him every day, crying and pointing
in the direction where she had come from. So Jack
got the men who were waiting on him to get out their
biggest canoes and take him and the girl over to the
next island. At first they refused, but Jack shot off
his gun and showed them that he could protect them,
then they were willing to go.
"Jack found a fine, big island. When the people
saw their Princess come back alive, they were very
glad. The Princess pointed to Jack Tarpin as her
rescuer. Then they shouted and danced and made
him king instead of their dead and eaten ruler. Then
Jack married the Princess and reigned for many years
over the two islands. He made the savages quit
eating each other, and he made them build better
houses and wear more clothes; and he made laws and
roads and schools and wagons. And he had a lot of
beautiful children, an' — that's all."
64 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
There was silence for a moment among the
boys, then one asked:
"Where is that Island?"
Will, ignoring the question, turned to Charley
Voss and told him it was his turn next. Charley, not
being able to take part with the boys in their manual
sports, had more time to read and think as well as
dream about what he read ; so Charley was one of their
"Once upon a time," he began, "there was a race
of fairy maidens who flew about in the form of beau-
tiful white swans. Sometimes they would lay aside
their fairy dresses to bathe, when, of course, they
would appear as women. One day a young man saw
six of these large birds fly down to the river, and he
thought he would try to find out just what they were.
So he crept up to where he had seen them alight.
"In the bushes on the river bank he came across
what must have been swan-robes. There were no
swans to be seen. He looked at the feather dresses
curiously. He picked one of them up and found it
light and fluffy. He rolled it up tightly, put it in his
pocket, and carried it away.
"Pretty soon he saw the swans fly away again,
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 65
but instead of six there were only five. The young
man went back to see what had become of the other
one. There where he had seen the swan-robes he
found a girl hiding in the rushes by the river. She
was crying because she had no clothes to put on, and
" 'Halloo/ said the young man; but the girl hid
closer in the rushes. 'What's the matter?' he asked.
'Can I help you?'
"You see, the young man had no idea the girl
was one of the swans and that he had her magic robe
in his pocket.
" 'Someone has taken my dress/ she said. 'My
sisters have all gone and left me, and here I am. Ah,
me! and she cried as if her heart would break.
"'Well,' said the young man, 'that was a mean
thing to do; but maybe I can help you. Wait where
you are and I'll fetch you some clothes', and away he
ran not heeding the further explanations which she
wished to make.
"Pretty soon he came back with a dress which he
hung on the willows, and then he went away until
she put it on. When he came back, there she was,
a beautiful girl with long golden hair, deep blue eyes,
66 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
rosy cheeks, and teeth like — Hke — well, they were
milk-white. She was still so frightened that she
did not know what to do; but the young man talked
to her gently and told her not to be afraid. She was
the most be-au-ti-ful girl he had ever seen, and he fell
in love with her, and took her home to his mother,
and after a while he married her.
"Well, they lived together for many years, and
although they were poor, they were quite happy.
They had three children. One day while the husband
was away, the wife happened to look in the bottom
of his tnmk which he usually kept locked, and there
she found the swan-robe which she had lost that day
while she was bathing with her sisters. She lifted the
dress out, unrolled it, and it came back to the same
shape it was when she had worn it. If she put it on,
she would be changed into a beautiful bird and be able
to fly away through the blue sky to her sisters and get
away from the hard work which she had to do every
day. She looked out of the open window, for it was a
summer day, and the land was green and beautiful.
Just the other day she and her husband had quarrel-
led, and she had found fault with him because they
were so poor And now here was a chance to
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 67
get away from all this misery. She shook the robe
again, and it seemed to say, Tut me on."
*'Just then she heard the children playing out in
the garden and she looked out at them. The little
boy was chasing the two girls as they ran among the
trees. They were laughing and shouting and having
a good time. They were not very well dressed, and
the mother had such sl time to keep them clean; but
they were good children, and she loved them very
much. The mother looked at them for a long time
Then the mother folded up the swan-dress
again and placed it back in her husband's trunk, way
down in the bottom where she had found it.
"The wife didn't say anything to her husband
about what she had found, but she couldn't help
thinking about the dress nearly every day.
"One day when times were harder than ever, and
the mother was working in the garden, she heard a
cry from overhead which made her look up. She saw
five large, white swans flying up in the sky. They
sailed gracefully about in circles, and their cry seemed
to say to her: ^Sister, come with us, come with us.
Come away from your hard work. Come and live in
the warm sunshine and blue sky and cool, green grass.
Come away from all your cares/
68 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
*'And then the woman threw down her hoe and
went into the house. Her husband was away at his
work and the children were asleep. She went to her
husband's trunk, opened it, and took out her swan-
dress. She looked out into the sky again. Yes; her
sisters were still there, circling about, waiting for her.
She shook out the swan-dress until it looked like a
white cloud. She began to take off her old calico
dress. Just then the youngest of the children awoke
and began to cry. The baby had not been well lately.
Perhaps she also was coming down with the measles.
The other children had had the measles, and what a
time the mother had had with them .... She stopped
for a moment in her undressing, then she went on
unfastening her dress.
"Outside the swans were calling; in the other
room her baby was crying."
The story-teller stopped. There was tense si-
lence among the boys.
"Well," said one. "Go on."
"That's all," said Charley Voss.
"All? Taint neither. Go on. What did the
"Don't know," replied Charley, shifting his
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 69
lame leg. "That's just where the story stopped, and
Pve never been able to find the rest of it/'
"Gee," said the boys, discontentedly, as they
arose to go home.
Which Tells How the Boys Played Some Pranks and
Paid for Them,
Early in the spring, as soon as a dry spot could
be found in Springtown, marble-playing began. Then
when the grass was soft to the bare feet, steal-sticks
was a favorite game. Back-out was not so strenuous,
but it had more daring to it. After dark, the boys
were partial to run-sheep-run. During the ball sea-
son, there were usually two teams, the first and the
second nines, which played with the boys from the
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 71
It is not to be supposed, however, that the boys
of Springtown confined themselves wholly to these
wholesome games and that they were free from the
mischievous pranks that boys sometime play. These
pranks were sometimes in bad taste. Had these boys
lived in the days of the Boy Scout movement, this
untamed boy energy would have been directed into
proper channels. In this chapter will be presented a
nimiber of escapades which had a special bearing on
the lives of William Wallace Jones and Ned Fisher.
Not far from the Fisher home, there lived an old
Scotchman by the name of O'Neal. He made a
specialty of chicken-raising. The boys noted how
spick and span everything about his chicken houses
appeared, and how he seemed to be always white-
washing his premises.
Now, a pot of white-wash with the brush can do
wonders in other hands than Tom Sawyer's. Late one
afternoon. Will and Ned, with three other boys, found
on the O'Neal lot, a pot half full of wash, with the
brush in it. They immediately began trjang their
hand. First a piece of the fence was whitened, then
a big rock, and then looking about them for more
objects, they saw a small calf lying in the grass.
72 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"Let's make it white, an' see if its mother will
know it," suggested Ned.
The others were willing to try the experiment,
and so the patient calf was coated from just behind its
ears to the tip of its tail. It certainly looked an odd
sight, and the boys were sure its mother would never
Darkness came on before the boys could com-
plete their investigations after knowledge, and they
had to go home. Just as Ned and Will were finish-
ing their suppers— so they both told each other —
they heard a shot ring out from the direction of the
O'Neal place. They wondered what it could mean.
Ned followed his father out to investigate.
They met Mr. O'Neal carrying a gun and drag-
ging something dead — and white, Ned observed with
"What have you there?" asked Mr. Fisher.
"I've kilt the mother skunk o' them all," re-
plied Mr. O'Neal.
"Mother skunk? What do you mean?"
"Weel, sir; the skunks have been a-takin' my
chickens an' eggs this lang time; I've been lying for
them, an' I've bagged the mother o' them all."
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 73
"Skunk!" exclaimed the neighbor as he looked
closely at the dead animal, "have you ever seen a
"No; but I've smelled 'em a guid many times;
and I understand they are a litish color."
"This is a calf. But what's the matter with it?"
"A calf!" exclaimed the Scotchman in alarm,
Ned Fisher's curiosity seemed to have been
satisfied, for he quietly sHpped back to the house and
then made his way to where Will was standing by
"Say, O'Neal's— shot— that calf," Ned stam-
"Shot it? What for?"
"He thought it was a skunk."
"A skunk!" Will laughed before the serious-
ness of the situation came to him; but Ned did not
join in the merriment. Presently, Mr. Fisher came
to where the boys were.
"Did you boys whitewash that calf?" he asked.
"What in the world—"
"We wanted to see if its mother 'd know it."
74 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"Well, its owner didn't seem to know it, any-
way,'' chuckled Mr. Fisher. "But, say, boys, how
many of you had a hand in this?"
Ned counted Ave.
"That calf is worth at least five dollars. As
there are five of you to blame, a dollar apiece is about
A dollar each! How in the world were they ever
to raise that sum? Ned had thirty-five cents which
he fondly hoped to soon raise to fifty, which he was
intending to spend on his gun. Will had fifteen cents
only in ready cash. What the other boys had could
not be determined that evening.
But the end of this unfortunate business was not
so bad after all. Seeing that .the boys were repentant
and that they were willing to do what they could to
make it right, Mr. Fisher helped them to obtain jobs
where they could earn a little money. It was a whole-
some experience for the boys to have to work and save
to pay a debt; and when it was done, they all felt as
if a heavy load had been lifted from them.
"Gee," exclaimed Ned, "all that money to pay,
and we get nothing for it."
"Not even the calf," added Will.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 76
"You get the lesson," said Aunt Martha.
Up on the hillside at the east of Springtown
lived ''Old Man Hansen" in one of the smallest,
oldest, oddest houses in the village. Trees overshad-
owed it and vines covered it. All about the house
grew a variety of flowers, many of which were taken
indoors at the coming of winter and bloomed pro-
fusely behind the protecting window pane. Every-
thing within the two-roomed house was odd, but neat
and tidy, even as was the old man who lived there.
A narrow path led from the front door down to
the gate and to the street. In the summer this path
was nearly hidden by the tall overhanging grass;
and it was this path which played an important part
in one of the boys' pranks.
"Old Man Hansen" lived all alone, never having
had] wife or children. These facts singled him out
from the rest of his fellows. He was odd, he lived an
odd life, and, therefore, he was a shining mark for the
boys of Springtown.
When the boys thought they needed a little more
reciting fun than run-sheep-run gave them, they re-
sorted to tick-tacking. There was considerable daring
required to steal quietly up to a window of the vie-
76 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
tim^s house, fasten the hook bearing the nail and cord
well up out of immediate reach, and then retreat to
some safe place from which the ticking could be car-
ried on. The boys had tested out a good many of the
homes of Springtown. When the inmates of the
house ignored them and their pranks, the game be-
came a tame affair and they bothered that house no
more. Even less fun was it when the man of the
house came to the door and good-naturedly jollied the
boys. But when the angry inmate tried to catch the
offenders, the sport became truly exciting and worth
"Old Man Hansen" was one who became very
much annoyed at the boys, and many were the thrill-
ing escapes they had had from him near his house on
On a certain moonlight evening the boys were
gathered on a corner near the old man's place. They
had planned, not only to tick-tack him that evening,
but to add something else to their fun. In a number
of places they had tied together the long grass across
the path. When the tick- tacking should begin, a num-
ber of the boys would show themselves near the
house, and then when the old man would come after
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 77
them, they were to lead him on into the path, and
then "It will be great sport to see him tumble,''
they all agreed, as they laughed at the coming sight.
Everything was ready. Ned was to pull the
string which made the nail rattle on the window. Will
and Zeph were to expose themselves to the attack
of the enemy and lead him to his fall. The boys
watched until the light went out in the window and
thei; they went to their various positions.
Tick, tick, tick, went the nail; then a pause,
and again the nail rattled against the window. Pres-
ently the light appeared once more; the old man had
gotten up again. The boys lay quietly while the door
opened and the old man looked out. Apparently,
he saw nothing, so he went back. Tick, tick, went
the nail. The door opened again. This time he saw
the two boys standing near the path. They began to
move away and he gave chase.
The boys ran down the hill, one on each side of
the path. The old man darted after them. He was
swifter than they thought, and he uttered peculiar
noises as he ran. Will and Zeph scampered for all
they were worth to get out of his way. He made for
Zeph who crossed the path just where there was a
78 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
good strong loop. His foot caught and he was pitched
headlong into the grass. Zeph gave a lusty yell, but
soon scrambled up again and was off like lightning.
Then the old man got fairly into the path, and it
was not long before he tripped and fell. He did not
get up again to renew the chase. The boys waited
within safe distance. They saw the old man sit up,
but he made no efforts to rise. The boys watched for
some time, but the sport was over, so they went home.
The next morning a neighbor told Mrs. Fisher,
and Mrs. Fisher came immediately over and told
Aunt Martha that last evening the boys had been
teasing old Brother Hansen again and that he had fall-
en and broken his leg. He had been picked up late
last night by a passer-by, or he might have been ly-
ing out all night. Something must be done with those
Aunt Martha agreed. After Mrs. Fisher had
gone, she foimd Will and Ned and brought them into
the house. They were quite docile, for they also had
heard the news. Both of them sat somewhat fright-
ened on the bench while Aunt Martha seated her-
self by the table, facing them.
"I want to talk to you boys," she said, "before
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 79
the constable or the Bishop comes. Yes, both of them
are likely to be here."
The boys breathed and swallowed hard.
"But if you boys are willing, I think we can ad-
just this trouble without the aid of either the Bishop
or the constable."
The boys were more than willing.
"Well then, Brother Hansen is a poor man and
depends for his living on what he raises on his lot. He
is an old man, and it will take a long time for him to
get out and about again. He has no one to help him.
Now, who is to take care of his place, hoe and water
his garden, chop and bring his wood, feed and milk
his cow, and do the other chores? Who, I ask?"
The boys did not reply. They knew now what
"All right; you two boys are among the ring-
leaders. You can do a lot with the other boys. You
get together all the boys who were with you last
night and tell them that if they do not want to go to
jail they had best agree to my plans, which is that
each of you must work at least an hour for Brother
Hansen, about his house or lot. For a while he'll
hare to have a woman help in the house, which Mrs.
80 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
Fisher and I will attend to; but we must have some-
one to help us also. I am going up to see him this
morning. You boys see the other boys today and
this evening you report to me what you intend do-
''All right/' they said as they were about to
"Just a moment," Aunt Martha said as she went
to the cupboard. ''I haven't any cookies today, but
here's a piece of pie each. Now just sit there and eat
your pie while I finish what I want to say." She
leaned forward and looked the boys squarely in the
face so that they could catch every word. '^Joy and
sorrow are funny fellows: the more you try to pass
them on to others the harder they stick to you.'*
She had the boys repeat the saying three times.
"Now, remember it," she admonished. "You may
not understand it fully just now, but the meaning
will grow with you as you grow Ned, your
mother's calling you — you needn't go, WilHam
Ned slipped out; Will remained on the bench;
Aunt Martha turned again to him.
"I'm writing to your mother," she told him.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 81
*'Vm going to tell her as much as I can of what good
you are doing for old Brother Hansen, and I'll tell
her as little as I can the reason for your doing it.
All right, run along and find the other boys."
Wherein the Story-telling Contest is Continued,
It was raining, and therefore too wet for the boys
to take to their island retreat; so they gathered in
the hay loft of the Fisher barn. A new crop of hay
had recently been hauled in, and the loft made an
ideal place to spend a wet afternoon and tell stories.
"Old Man Hansen" was progressing favorably,
for he had recovered sufficiently to sit on his little
front porch and direct the boys in their self-appointed
task of helping him. Some of the boys had changed
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 83
their opinions of the old man on a nearer acquaint-
"The old man isn't such a bad chap/' Will com-
mented as he stretched himself on the sweet-smelling
hay. "Yesterday, he told me that maybe he would
have us boys help him all the time, we were such
"Well, he can afford it," said another boy,
"ril bet he has a lot of money."
Some agreed, others disagreed; but the conver-
sation led to misers, and then to pirates and buried
treasures, a number of stories being told about them.
"Boys," said Ned, "here's a riddle; who can guess
*0h, I'm a cook and a captain bold
An' the mate of the Nancy Brig,
An' a bo'sun tight, an' a midshipmite
An' the crew of the captain's gig.' *
Ned looked wise, and admonished Will not to
tell. The others shook their heads. They were not
familiar with the nautical terms used. Ned, in order
to help them, explained the meaning of some of the
84 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"Well, how could one person be all the men on
board a ship?" asked Jim.
"Give it up?"
They all did.
"Well, this was one of them pirate ships which
run out of grub, an' so they began to eat up each
other, till there was only one man left."
The problem was hardly plain yet, so Ned ex-
"If the officers ate the crew, an' then if the cap-
tain an' mate an' bo'sun ate the cook, an' then if the
captain an' mate ate the bo'sun, an' then if the cap-
tain ate the mate, there would only be the captain
left, and wouldn't he be all the others in himself?"
None of the boys disputed this conclusion if the
premises were true, which some of them doubted.
"Well, I read it in a book," contended Ned,
which, of course, was the end of controversy.
"Say," inquired one of the boys of Charley
Voss, "Did ye find out about that swan- woman?
Did she stay with her family or did she go with her
"Never found out," replied Charley.
"I'd like to know. I told the story at home, and
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 85
they're nearly crazy to find out. My sister said of
course she went back to her beautiful bird life; dad
said as how it was a stumper fer him; .an' ma, she just
smiled quiet like an' said she guessed she stayed with
"Well— but— "
"Tell us another story, Charley."
"Let's all tell one," suggested Charley. "I'll
begin an' tell a chapter, then Ned will continue an'
tell another chapter, an' then one of you others, an'
"Naw," objected some. "Let's" agreed the
majority; so they settled comfortably on the hay
while Charley began:
"Once upon a time a young man by the name
of Clarence started out to find his sweetheart who
was the finest singer in the world. She had been
stolen by robbers. He set sail from New York, an'
as the wind was blowing south, he sailed in that direc-
tion. He sailed an' he sailed, until he came to a land
which was covered with trees an' swamps an' vines
reaching from one tree to another. He found a place
where he could sail his ship quite a ways into the
land. Then he and his men got off and went into the
86 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
deep, dark forest. They had come to the Ever-
glades of Florida.
"They traced the fleeing robbers to a big cave
in these Everglades.
" 'We'll go in here/ said our hero.
" 'Why?' asked his men.
" 'See/' he replied, holding up a piece of fine
cloth. 'This came from my lady love's dress. She
must have torn it on these briers. Come, follow me.'
"They entered the cave. It was dark and led
deep into the earth. They lighted their pine torches
and found that the cave was in reality a tunnel which
at one time had been well traveled, for there was a
good road through it. After a time, they came to
where it sloped up again, and soon they came out into
the open and looked about and saw something which
made them stare with all their eyes. — End of Chapter
One. You, Dick go on with Chapter Two."
The boys laughed at Dick as if the joke was on
him, but this was the condition of the contest, that
each story-teller would have to extricate the heroes
of the preceding one, no matter into what straitg
they were brought. However, Dick had followed the
narrative closely, and he already had in mind what
might be in the depths of the Everglades, so he began:
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 87
"Before them they saw a beau-ti-ful city. The
houses were of white marble; there were gardens of
flowers and ripened fruit; there were tall palm trees
and singing birds; but there wasn't any people to be
seen in the city.
"Clarence and his men stood looking at this
wonderful sight. What did it mean? One of the men
thought that a plague must have killed off all the
people. At this they were frightened, and some of
them wanted to go back at once; but Clarence said,
'No; we will investigate this mystery. Come, follow
"They went into a garden, picked and ate some
of the fruit, and they drank of the water in the foun-
tain. They went through great gates of shining brass,
and walked along marble paths. At last they came to
a big building as big as a block. They went up to the
door and there they saw a man.
" Tive dollars, please," said the man to them.
" 'What for?' asked Clarence.
" To get in,' replied the door-keeper.
" 'What's going on?'
" 'A grand concert.'
" Tive dollars to hear a concert. You must have
some great singer here.'
88 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
" The greatest in the world/
" 'No, you haven't', said Clarence, then he be-
thought himself. 'Could that be possible! Yes, it
*' 'Here, give me a ticket,' said Clarence, hand-
ing the man five dollars. 'You men remain outside
"Clarence went in and found a great crowd of
people. The whole city must have been gathered
there. They were very still. The concert had not
yet begun. Clarence got as close to the stage as he
could. He looked about at the people, and waited.
Beautiful music was being played. Pretty soon the
music stopped, and the curtain on the stage went up.
—End of the chapter," said Dick. "Go on, Jim."
With such a clue Jim should have had no trouble
to go on with the story, but Jim was more interested
in the antics of Rover, the dog, than the story, and he
had heard practically nothing of chapter two. Jim
gathered his bewildered senses. The last distinct
idea he had of the story was where Charley had said :
'They saw something which made them stare with
all their eyes.' What could this be, thought the con-
fused boy. The most startling thing he could think of
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN, 89
was that the maiden whom they were trying to rescue
was dead, so Jim began:
''They found the beautiful maiden dead."
There was a chorus of objections to this. What
was the matter with Jim? There was no sense to what
he said. They wouldn't have the heroine dead, not
yet? Jim hadn't kept track of the story. Someone
else would have to go on with it.
"All right," said Dick, "Will may continue."
"As the curtain went up," said Will, "the beauti-
ful maiden was seen to advance. Yes, Clarence knew
now that the robbers had kidnapped his lady love and
had taken her to this hidden city in the swamp to
make their fortune by having her sing: But could she
sing under such conditions? That was the question.
Would she not be frightened so she could not sing?
Clarence crowded forward until he could speak to
her, which he did. She heard him. Her captors tried to
make her go on and sing, but when she tried she could
not. She tried again, but couldn't. Then the people
rose and shouted that they had been cheated, and
they tried to get at the managers of the show; but
they escaped and took the maiden with them, with
Clarence and his men in full pursuit. They all ran
90 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
through the streets of the city towards the under-
ground passage, but they missed it and came to the
edge of the big swamp which stretched out ahead of
them for miles and miles. There was no way for
them to get across; and now what should they do?
End of the chapter. Go on, Ned."
"Gosh," said Ned. "I don't know. I can't."
"Oh, go on, go on."
"Well, the robbers found a canoe, got in it and
paddled their way through the Everglades. Clarence
found another canoe, and followed. At last they
came to where the robbers had left their ship. They
got in and sailed away. Clarence and his men found
their ship also and they sailed away in pursuit.
That's all. Slim, go on."
"And they sailed and they sailed," said Slim.
"And they sailed and they sailed, till they got to the
North Pole. They sailed past the ice bergs till they
came to where the climate was warmer again. They
sailed and they sailed without ever being able to
catch the robbers. They sailed and they sailed,
until at last they came out at the South Pole."
"South Pole!" the boys shouted in derision.
"Yes. South Pole," repeated Slim. "My
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 91
father says he knows a man who beHeves there's a
hole right through the earth from the North to the
South Pole, and that the ocean reaches all the way.
— Well, when the ships came to the South Pole, they
got caught in the ice, right close to each other. They
froze up tight. Clarence began to figure how he could
reach the other ship and rescue his lady love, when
one day — End of the chapter. Your turn, Zeph."
Zeph was the poorest reader, the poorest story
teller among them. At home or at school, he would
never read if he could avoid it. Where was Zeph?
over there asleep on the hay. "Zeph, your turn,"
shouted the boys.
"What y' want?" repHed Zeph sleepily.
"The ships are in the ice, an' you must get them
"Let 'm stay."
"But you must finish the story. All but you have
told a chapter, an' this is a contest. Do you give up?"
"Give up? Not much." Zeph had heard enough
of the story to get an inkling of it and what was re-
quired of him. He looked at the boys for a moment as
if to get the situation in hand, then he said:
"Well, jest then Clarence 'woke up and found it
had been all a dream— The End."
In Which the Circus Comes Within Reach of SpriTtg-
The circus was coming, not of course, to Spring-
town, but to Wanda, only three miles away. The
advance agent of the approaching wonder had already
decorated the fences and sides of barns with pictures
of wild and fierce animals and of beautiful ladies in
light flying skirts who were breaking through paper-
covered hoops, some of which were all ablaze, and
were lighting on galloping horses. The boys of
Springtown stood agape before these pictures.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 93
For days before the circus came, the boys talked
of nothing else. Who were going? How many could
raise the price of admission? That was a burning
problem with many of the boys. The Stephens barn
stood near the main street, and the bill-poster had
given the owner two tickets for the privilege of past-
ing his announcements on its broad sides. Mr.
Stephens, therefore, was sure of admission ; but Zeph
had bitter doubts whether he would be permitted to
accompany his father.
There were two nights at least each summer when
the boys of Springtown did not sleep in their beds
indoors. These were the nights before the coming
of the circus and the night before the Fourth of July,
or the night before Pioneer Day if that day was chosen
for observance. On the nights before these local
celebrations, the boys made their beds on the top of
some hay stack, from which they could hear the first
stirrings of the celebrations, and could be up and off
without disturbing the family, to the school-house
lot where a veteran soldier saluted the rising sun by
the aid of a keg of powder and a pair of Blacksmith
Circuses have a habit of getting into town un-
94 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
commonly early, as though they didn't want the
people to see them; but the boys did not intend to
miss any of the sights.
The night before the coming of the circus, six
of the boys were huddled together on top of the
Fisher hay stack. Mrs. Fisher had insisted that they
take with them plenty of quilts, though the boys were
sure they would not need them. Every year they
said the same thing, and every time before morning
they were glad they had them. Only their shoes and
hats were laid aside, as they crawled between the
blankets and lay gazing up into the clear, star-studded
sky. Sleep was far from them. Usually, at least
three boys were talking at the same time. Towards
midnight, all but one of them had ceased, and then
shortly, he also went to sleep.
But the rooster below them beat them up after
all. At the first streak of day, he crowed so lustily
that Ned sat up, rubbed his eyes, and called to his
companions. They scrambled out much more readily
than if the call had come from father or mother.
They pulled on their shoes, drew on their hats and
then slid down the easy slope of the stack to the
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 95
Breakfast? They were not hungry, not yet.
So away they went through the cold, gray dawn, down
the road, across the bridge, and on to the highway
Four of the boys had the price of a ticket in their
pockets, which they felt of and looked at once in a
while to make sure it was there. Two of the boys
had no money, not even a nickel to buy a glass of
lemonade. It was a sort of trust-to-luck with them.
Anyway, they would be on the ground and see what
there was to see on the outside. Only two of the boys
had any lunch with them, snugly forgotten, for the
present, in their pockets. The others depended on
getting something from their folks when they should
come later in the day.
The boys had barely arrived at Wanda when
the circus-train pulled in, and was switched on to a
siding. The unloading began immediately. Rough,
loud, dirty, swearing men swarmed about the train,
and with much noise and bustle, the vans and wagons
of the circus were taken from the train and hauled
by the circus horses to the open square in the town.
Elephants, camels, giraffes, ponies, followed in slow
procession. Great bundles of dirty looking canvas
96 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
were dumped on the ground of the square, and these
were attacked by groups of men. Soon the entangle-
ment of ropes and pulhes and canvas was spread out
on the ground. In a short time small tents sprang up
into which went many of the circus people and the
horses. The raising of the big tent was a slower job.
The workmen were ordered about by swearing bosses
as if they were slaves. Slowly, but surely, the stakes
were driven, the tall central poles were erected, and
the big canvas roof swelled into the air.
The boys stood intently by, thrilled with the
wonder of it all. They took care to keep out of the
way of the evil-mouthed bosses. They peeped cur-
iously into the tents where the cooking of breakfast
was going on. My, how good that breakfast must
be! In a few hours, the whole square was filled with
tents. The big tents were in the center, from which
extended in two rows, the side-shows, announced by
great canvas paintings of snake-eating savages, enor-
mously fat women, and five-legged pigs. The boys
became interested in the erection of the refreshment
stands, and two of them got the job of filling a big
barrel of water from the nearest hydrant. They
wondered if it was for the elephant, but were soon
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 97
enlightened, when, after it was filled, they saw a man
get out his bottles and proceed to make the world-
famous circus lemonade. First he stirred in a small
bag of sugar, then a white powder, then from a
small bottle, a red color; next he cut into thin slices
a few lemons which floated on top and helped to give
the liquid the proper appearance. Lastly, some ice
was put into the barrel; and this was what later the
venders loudly announced as ''ice-cold lemonade."
For carrying the water, the two boys got a drink
of the red mixture. They smacked their lips and said
it was fine. We must remember that the small boy's
imagination is brought to high tension on circus day.
Before noon, wagons began to arrive from Spring-
town. Mr. Fisher, who was somewhat of a horse-
man himself, was greatly interested in the fine horses.
The hungry boys found the lunch baskets, after which
they could go about their sight-seeing more com-
The parade traversed the principal streets of
Wanda, and the crowds followed it to the noise and
dust of the circus grounds. The Fishers and the
Joneses all went together, Zeph and Dick going with
them. The two ticketless boys had wandered from
98 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
the others. (Later, they claimed to have crawled
under the tent and to have "seen most of it.")
Leisurely, the animals were viewed, and then the
party went into the main tent to see the performance.
Of course, every boy — and man — who reads this
story has been to the circus; therefore, there is no need
of describing all that took place at this performance
— for all circuses are very much alike. Our boys were
especially interested in the trapeze performers, the
bare-back riding, and the clowns. One clown tried to
ride a bucking donkey, much to the merriment of the
crowd. Then along came a simple looking man act-
ing as if he had wandered into the tent and was some-
what lost. He saw the clown and the donkey, and
expressed a desire to try what he could do. The clown
was willing. The man climbed on the donkey and was
instantly thrown headlong into the ring. He climbed
on again, and this time the donkey set out on a fast
run around the ring with the man chnging to the
animal's mane and shouting as if he was very scared;
but then the rider leaped up and stood on the don-
key's back, threw off some clothes and appeared in
the shining costume of a circus rider. Then along
came a beautiful white horse, and the rider leaped
upon his back, and away they went.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 99
Then came trotting into the ring a good-sized
Shetland pony with a Httle white-clad girl on its
back. They made such a pretty picture that even the
band stopped playing; the clowns quit their pranks;
the peanut venders rested from their labors. Slowly,
the pony walked around the ring lifting his feet and
bowing as if he were greeting the people. Then he
galloped gently, and the little girl stood up, waving
her hand and smiling. Attendants now brought in
some ladders and boxes, and the horse with its rider
was put through some tricks with these. Just then
there was a commotion in the other end of the tent,
and around the area came a galloping donkey, hitched
to a clumsy cart. It seemed that this act had gotten
in out of its order, and there was some strenuous
efforts to stop it; but before this could be done, the
cart had hit the pyramid of ladders with the pony on
it and sent them all crashing to the ground. Luckily,
the little girl jumped unharmed out of the way, but
the pony was hurled with such force that when it at-
tempted to rise it stood on three legs for a few mo-
ments and then sank down again. The circus men
soon placed the horse on a piece of canvas and drew
it out of the ring. Then the band struck up again,
and the performance went on.
100 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
But the boys could not forget the unfortunate
accident; and after the close of the performance,
Ned and Will prevailed on Mr. Fisher to go with them
to the tent of the horses and make further enquiries.
"Fm interested in horses," explained Mr. Fisher
to the rnan in charge, as an excuse for his coming.
"I would like to know how the little pony is?"
"Are you a veterinarian?" the man asked.
"Not exactly; but I have had a long experience
"Well, come in and take a look at him. I'm
afraid he's done for. Leg badly crushed, if not
They entered the tent. The pony was lying on
some straw with its head fastened down so it could not
get up. It seemed to look up at them with pleading
eyes; at least, that's what Will Jones thought, and
his heart went out to the suffering animal. Mr.
Fisher examined the injured leg carefully. "It's
rather bad," he said.
"Bad! yes; I should say!" agreed the man. "One
of our best acts gone to — We're on the move all the
time, an' we can't be bothered with a broken-legged
horse. I guess we'll jest have to knock him in the
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 101
"0, don't," pleaded Will, impulsively— "give
him to me— maybe he'll get better— please."
The man looked at Will, then at Mr. Fisher.
"Do you think there is any chance?" he asked.
"Well, there might be."
"Suppose I give him to the boy here. Take him
and try your hand. I hate like the devil to kill the
beast. The little girl — , ah, here she is now."
The Httle performer came running in. "0,
my Prince, my poor Prince," she cried as she kneeled,
and put her arms about the pony's neck. "What can
we do for you? Oh, please, can't you make his leg
"Now look here, my dear," said the man, "you
must not carry on so. I fear Prince is done for — but
at any rate he cannot travel just now. This man,
who understands horses, has kindly offered to take
him and see what can be done for him. With care and
a long rest, he might get better."
Mr. Fisher was about to protest — he had no de-
sire to be burdened with a sick horse; but the circus
man winked at him aside as if to say, "This is only
to pacify the little girl."
"Yes, sure, we'll take care of him," agreed Will.
102 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"And you'll make him better?" pleaded the girl
as she Btood before Will and looked him in the face.
"We'll try," stammered the boy.
"And when we come back here again next year,
my Prince will be well." Again she placed her arms
about the horse and she kissed him on the forehead.
Then with tearful eyes she shook hands with the two
men and the two boys, and then went on her way.
The outcome of this incident was that when the
noise and the confusion of the departing circus had
subsided, Mr. Fisher looked questioningly at the
boys and the boys looked in like manner at him, and
they all looked at the pony. Then Mr. Fisher ob-
tained liniments and sphnts and bandaged the horse's
leg in a very professional manner. "The leg isn't
broken," he said to the boys. "We'll get him to the
nearest stable and leave him there for a while. Then
This was done. In the cool dusk of evening the
boys rode back home. They were hungry and tired,
but elated that they had a real circus pony which
might get well — and besides, had they not shaken
hands with one of the beautiful lady circus riders!
Which Tdls of the Circus Coming to Springtown,
Prince, the circus pony, did get better; and one
fine day a troupe of boys, led by Ned and Will, brought
him proudly into Springtown. He was lodged in Mr.
Fisher's best stall, though it was well understood
that a half ownership in the horse belonged to Will.
The horse was fed on the choicest of hay, cared for,
petted, and waited on as if he were in very deed of
The horse took it all in good part, and readily
mad« friends with the boys. On sunny afternoons
104 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
they led him out to the pasture where he nibbled the
sweet grass and kicked up his heels in frolic.
"ril bet he's glad to get away from the circus,"
one of the boys ventured.
"It's not natural for horses to ride on the train,"
"And they get nothing but dry hay," added a
Thus the boys were trjdng by force of words, at
least, to justify themselves in keeping Prince away
from the charm and wonder of circus life. They, of
course, would much prefer the glorious career of that
life, but then they were not horses. With horses,
it must be different. They watched Prince to see if
he pined for the circus ring or the charming young
lady who used to perform on his back, but as far as
they could discern, he was quite content with his
humbler surroimdings and life.
For some weeks after the circus, the boys had no
use for the usual games and sports. Even the island
was neglected. All of them were playing circus.
They were turning handsprings, walking on their
hands, standing on their heads; horizontal bars were
made in all the yards, on which skin-the-cat and other
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 106
feats were performed; trapezes were hung in barns
where there was plenty of soft hay on which to fall;
old, gentle horses were trotted about the improvised
rings in the corrals, and the boys practiced all sorts
of fancy riding on their bare backs.
But, of course, all these paled into insignificance
in the presence of the real circus horse which was
with them. As Prince became quite firm on his hurt
leg, his owners (Ned and Will) tested him to see if
he had forgotten any of his tricks. Even Mrs. Fisher
and Aunt Martha took a hand in this, and to the de-
light of the two families and a score of boys, the pony,
with a little urging went through many of the tricks
it had been acustomed to do in the circus tent.
"Let's have a circus,'* said Ned one afternoon to
Wonderful possibilities came before them. What
could not be done with a real circus horse as the lead-
ing attraction! Who should be the rider? Girls
were out of the question, besides, there were no such
girls in the whole of Springtown as the one in the
circus. Of course not. Who should be the clown?
The riders and the clowns were conceded to be the
106 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
most important parts of a circus. And so, after
much talking, and some disagreements and argu-
ments, it was decided that the two who had the best
right to play the leading parts were Ned and Will.
Ned being the best rider, the riding act was given to
him. Will was to play the clown. Where were they
to get a donkey or a pig as they had seen in the cir-
cus? But perhaps they could find some other funny
things for the clown to do. "Sure," said the other
boys a little enviously.
Of course, they could not get a tent in which to
perform, so they looked about for some other suitable
inclosure. The Fisher yard was made of poles
through which the people could not only look but
crawl, if they desired, so that would not do. The
Stephens yard was inclosed by a high board fence,,
and the management of the forthcoming circus ob-
tained permission to use this yard for the perform-
ance, for there was to be a charge for admission-
five cents for grown-ups; but what could they charge
children was a much mooted question, for this waa
before the days of pennies.
The boys cleaned the yard for the ring, erected
the trapeze and the bars, and then went into trainr
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 107
ing. It was a hard matter for the parents to get
them to do their usual morning's work; but with the
assistance of Mr. Fisher's, Mr. Stephen's and Aunt
Martha's authority, the rule of forenoon work was
fairly well enforced.
/- ■'— learn quicker than men, it was hardly
a week before the citizens of Springtown read the
following announcement, written with blue crayon
on brown paper and posted on the Stephen's barn
over the ragged remnants of the circus posters:
THE WORLD FAMOUS HORSE PRINCE
ALSO THE CLOWN
AND MANY OTHERS
NEXT SATURDAY AT 2 p. m.
Tickets, 5 cents; Children two for five.
As this was the first time any part of a real cir-
cus had ever come to Springtown, there was consider-
able interest in the event, not only among the boys,
but among the parents. The promoters of the enter-
108 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
prise did not sleep on the hay stack the night before,
but they were up early nevertheless, putting the
finishing touches to the yard where the performance
was to be held, getting the tickets ready — for of
course, there must be tickets — finding costumes, and
rehearsing some of the more difficult parts of the
About an hour after the advertised time, the
circus was ready to begin. A number of grown-ups
mingled with the boys and girls which constituted the
audience. Mrs. Fisher and Aunt Martha were there,
as also was the Manager of the Co-op store. Zeph,
who was the policeman, had a hard job to prevent the
boys who had no money from climbing over the fence
or from peeping through the cracks and knot holes.
At last everything was ready, and Ned Fisher,
dressed in a long coat and high-topped boots stepped
into the ring and cracked his father's buggy whip.
Immediately, Prince was led out and paraded about
the beaten track. Ribbons were tied to his mane
and tail. He stepped quite proudly as though he was
aware of his importance. Ned managed to have him
lift his foot and nod his head to the people, much to
their delight. Then he was taken back to his stall
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 109
while the other performers play: heir parts. Dick
Johnson skinned the cat with ease. Slim Larsen stood
on his head on the horse blanket, made into a mat.
Then all the performers came in at once, including
the clown. With painted face and baggy trousers,
he did look funny, and the people shouted and
laughed. A sort of leap-frog game was then played,
in which the clown appeared to be very awkward, and
tumbled foolishly among the boys. Then there was
some "daring" trapeze performances wherein one of
the boys unintentionally landed head first on the old
straw pile in the corner. Then the ring master strode
forth and announced in important tones that now
would come the grand act, wherein the famous circus
horse could take the leading part. The ring was
Presently, Prince came prancing out with Ned
on his back. N#d had on tight-fitting knee trousers,
pink stockings, and a green waist. Proudly, the horse
and rider passed as in review before the admiring eyes
of those present. Then the horse stopped while Ned
stood on the horse's back. Carefully, both horse and
rider went around the ring, then Ned slid down again
to a sitting position.
110 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
It was at this point where the grand double riding
act should be performed by Ned and Will; therefore,
the clown made his appearance and stood looking at
Ned and his steed.
"Huh/' the clown grunted, "I kin ride that hos."
The haughty rider did not deign to notice the
clown; Prince stepped proudly about the ring.
"Say, let me try,'' begged the clown.
"You can't ride," scornfully declared Ned.
"I kin too — I'll show ye." He began to climb to
the horse's back, from whence, it had been planned,
he should slide awkwardly and in funny ways, after
which he should push Ned off altogether and gallop
off with Prince mid the cheers of the spectators.
Now, strange to say, in all this preparations for
circus performing, some one had been overlooked and
therefore entirely neglected — that was Sport, the dog.
Humbly he had followed the boys, and had been a
patient observer through all their antics; but now he
could stand this neglect no longer. He also must play
a part; so right at the moment when the clown had
climbed up again and sat awkwardly backward qn
the horse. Sport bounded into the ring, and with a
sharp, joyous bark went after the royal Prince's heels.
THE BOYS OP SPRINGTOWN. Ill
The horse, frightened, started forward to a gallop
around the ring. The clown, instead of tumbling off,
clung the firmer to the horse. As the speed increased,
Ned grasped the flying mane, and Will dug his knees
into the horse's flanks. Faster, faster, they went.
Sport at their heels as though he were the whole show.
The crowd hooted and laughed. Prince, now
thoroughly vexed, tried to shake the boys off, but
they clung grimly on. Faster became the pace. The
dust flew, the air was filled with the din of shouting
and excitement. Sport stuck to his game.
Aunt Martha and Mrs. Fisher became alarmed.
''Stop them," they shouted to some of the men who
seemed unable to move for holding their sides in
laughter. 'They'll get hurt. Can't you stop them?"
cried the women.
Aunt Martha moved out into the ring. "Whoa,
whoa," she cried and waved her hands. The horse
changed his course. Out through the admittance
gate he bolted, upsetting the ticket seller and his
nickles. Down the road he galloped and into the lane
which led to the pasture. As he leaped the ditch by
the willows, a low-hanging branch caught the boys
and pushed them off into the mud and water!
112 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
The whole circus rushed pell-mell after theiitl.
The boys got up, a little dazed, looked at the mud on
their clothes, and then grinned back at the grinning^
questioning crowd about them.
The circus was over.
"The show was worth a dollar,'* laughed the
Manager of the Co-op to the Postmaster as they went
back to business.
Prince was found in the lower pasture gently
cropping the newest grass. The blue ribbon was still
decorating his tail.
In Which the Boys Become Interested in Theatricals
and Take Part in an Outing to the Hills,
As the activity in circus performances lessened
among the boys of Springtown, the spirit of the drama
took possession. One of the causes for this was that
the Springtown Dramatic Company put on the im-
provised stage in the rock meeting-house "Black-
eyed Susan" and **Box and Cox" to the delight and
inspiration of the boys. Then there came a traveling
troupe into the village with *'Rip Van Winkle." As
the price of admission to this imported performance
114 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
was harder to reach than that to the home-made one,
all the boys did not attend; but they were told all
about the wonderful Rip and the little men in the
hills and the dog.
Some of the boys had helped set the stage for the
local performance, so they had an idea what was re-
quired by way of scenery and wings and curtain;
but of course, they never hoped in their own perform-
ance to reach the perfection attained by the home
company, the adult players having for their stage
manager one Tom Brown, a painter of scenes, who
had had previous experience in such things back in
New York. This Tom Brown kindly loaned the boys
some plays to read, and in other ways helped them to
The trouble' with selecting a play was that all
of them called for female parts and none of them pro-
vided for a horse as the chief actor? Some of the boys
suggested that the girls* parts could be left out and a
part for a horse put in; but when this was actually
attempted with "The Corsican Vandetti," they found
the dialogue did not make sense. The only way out
of the difficulty was to have one of the boys dress up
as a girl. The discussion on who should do this was
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 115
long, but at last it was decided that Dick should play
the part of the girl because he had a sister about his
size from whom he could borrow some clothes.
Prince, the circus pony, could be worked in read-
ily, for some of the actors could make their entrances
on his back. Whether the horse was to be used by
the hero or the villain was also a matter for heated
discussion. It was finally decided that the hero had
better have the horse, for it was necessary at a certain
point in the play for the hero to make great haste to
rescue his lady love from danger.
"How are ye goin' to get the horse up the loft?"
piped Bose Rankin at this point in the argument.
The boys laughed at their own forgetfulness,
for they knew all the time that the only available
place for their theatrical performances was Mr.
Rankin's hay loft which was roomy, free from hay,
and had a fairly good floor. Prince, along with the
girls, was out of it.
The parents of the boys gave them some help
in fitting up their stage, for they reasoned that they
were better engaged thus than ''chasing the streets."
So every afternoon there was much stir about the
barn and much rehearsing of parts until they were
116 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
ready to present to the public the "Corsican Van-
The audience which greeted the boys on the
afternoon of the opening performance was small but
select, for every one had to climb the one ladder which
led to the loft. The manager of the Co-op, remember-
ing what value he had received for his money at the
circus performance, was in attendance. This man
was usually interested in the doings of the boys, any-
way, for he had a boy just approaching the age when
he could be admitted into the "crowd." A number
of the parents were also there. Although the play
was supposed to be very tragic, the grown-ups
laughed heartily at the performance as if it were a
rollicking farce. The only serious hitch in the play
was when the heroine, (Dick) being asked to lay
aside her hat, took off wig and all which revealed the
grinning Dick to the gaze of the laughing company.
The performance ended without accident. The
barn did not catch fire; the fat Mrs. Thompson did
not break through the loose board in the floor; nor
did anyone fall down the ladder. The boys announc-
ed that the following week they would present the
rip-roaring farce, "The Coal Heavers' Revenge."
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 117
This they did, Ned Fisher and Will Jones taking the
parts of the two revengeful darkies.
This performance ended the boys' dramatic
season: Mr. Rankin had bought some more cows,
therefore he needed more hay, consequently he re-
quired the barn, accordingly the boys had to get out.
One of the events in Springtown was the annual
ward outing to the hills. The usual place of encamp-
ment was some miles up in the canyon on a high table-
land beyond what was called "The Notch." This
'"Notch" consisted of an opening in the ridge which
looked as if some fabulous monster might have taken
a bite out of the mountain range. The outing usually
lasted two or three days, and all the boys of Spring-
town who were physically able went.
Food and tents and bedding were loaded into the
big farm wagons, and about noon the company be-
gan the journey. That summer the outing was
later than usual and the hills were beautifully decked
with brilliantly hued autumn leaves. It was a keen
joy to breathe the cool, invigorating air, filled as it
was with the wild aroma of the hills. As they traveled
up the road, the mountains echoed with songs and
118 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
Ned Fisher rode in his father's wagon, in which
were also the Jones family, excepting Will, who was
mounted on Prince. Prince had been transferred
to the Jones new barn. Uncle Josiah had recently
bought a cow and had built a barn. Mr. Fisher had
plenty of good work horses, and had no particular
use for a pet such as Prince, so he prevailed upon Ned
to make some kind of trade with Will so that the com-
plete ownership of the circus animal might pass to
the neighbor's boy. This was done, so now Prince
shared with the cow the small, new barn of his owner.
Since the transfer. Prince had come down to the
menial work of going after the cows. The boys some-
times wondered what Prince thought about such a
''come-down;" but if he thought about his changed
condition at all, no one was aware of it. The horse
appeared quite at home with the boys and whatever
they were doing. He was one of the "the crowd."
He had long since been forgiven the trick he had
played them on the day of the circus, as had also
Sport, perhaps the direct cause of the trouble.
Some time before the sun went down, the pro-
cession reached the camping grounds. Tents were
pitched in a green meadow near a quaking-asp grove
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 119
by the creek. Dry brush-wood was gathered and
preparations made for the cooking of supper. Then,
when smoke and the odor of frying foods had put a
keenness to their hunger, the company sat about in
small groups and ate their supper from the white
table-cloths spread on the grass. Why is it that food
tastes so much better when eaten from the ground up
in the hills than from the table at home?
When supper was over and the dishes were out
of the way and the cool air came on with the darkness,
one big community fire was built, about which the
whole company gathered. Songs were sung, stories
were told, and experiences of pioneer days were re-
lated. Then about ten o'clock, the Bishop led in
prayer, a wonderful prayer it seemed to Will Jones,
there in the quiet of the hills, with the breeze in the
tree-tops, the soft splashing of the creek as a tuneful
undertone, and the stars overhead.
Then they went to bed — and it was next day
before they were aware of it. The boys got up with-
out urging, likewise washed their faces in the cold
stream, and were soon ready for breakfast.
That day each group was left very much to its
own resources. Ned and Will with a number of other
120 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
boys explored the surrounding hills, found a few ber-
ries, and came back to camp about noon ready for
dinner. In the afternoon, Mr. Fisher went with the
boys to a sand-stone ledge near the "Notch" and as
they were sitting in the sunlight looking down on the
valley below, Mr. Fisher asked:
"Boys, have you ever heard of the Gadianton
Some of them had, but it was all very dim in
their memories; they were eager to know more.
"When I was a boy," said Mr. Fisher, "I used to
haul wood from these hills with my father. He it
was who told me first about these robbers, but, of
course, later I read about them in the Book of Mor-
mon. It was my father's opinion that these robbers
used to live right here in these mountains after they
were driven out of the country where they used to
steal and kill and do all manner of wicked things.
Father took me to a cave up there near that ridge,
which, I am sure, would hold hundreds of men."
"Is the cave there yet?"
"I suppose so; Ihaven't been there for ten years."
A big cave where robbers had been! What an
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 121
"Can't we go to it?" asked Ned.
"Yes, if you would like the climb."
"Are — would there be — do you think there are
any robbers there now?" asked one of the boys.
"Oh, no," laughed Mr. Fisher. "The robbers
are all dead hundreds of years ago."
There were no well-defined trails over the hills
toward the cave, so the walking was slow, as the boys
followed their leader, like as in a game of back-out,
around ledges of rock and thickets of brush. They
were quite out of sight of the camp when they reached
The cave proved all that had been said about it.
It stretched away in darkness far into the mountain.
Mr. Fisher looked about, and presently found some-
thing on the sand-stone floor which he moved with
"Hum," he said.
"What is it?" asked Ned.
"Only some traces of bears."
"Bears? are there bears here?"
"There have been some not long ago; this is
Robbers, and then bears! Well, here was excite-
122 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
ment enough. Though the robbers were long since
dead, the bears might be very much alive. The boys
looked at Ned's father. He did not appear afraid,
so they took courage and followed him and his pine
torch into the darkness of the cave. The cave opened
into other rooms. The guide held the torch above
his head and shouted into the big blackness. His voice
echoed dismally, and then everything became in-
The party walked about for some time, then
made its way back to the opening and daylight. As
they stood blinking in the sunlight, they heard shout-
ing down in the valley. They wondered what it could
be, and if they were missing any fun.
Presently, a crackling of brush was heard from
down the hillside. It came nearer, yet nearer to the
group standing in the mouth of the cave, staring in-
tently down the hill. Then they saw a big black
object spring across an open space and begin to climb
up the hill toward the cave.
Up it came — straight for them! A few more
leaps, and it would be on them! The boys stood ter-
rified. What could they do? They had no weapon
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 123
with which to defend themselves. On came the bear
in leaps and bounds! Then the boys let out a ter-
rific scream, and Mr. Fisher waved his torch which
was yet smoking. The bear slowed, then stopped.
He had seen and heard. He was no doubt making
for the protection of the cave from some enemies
below, but he saw the entrance to be blocked. The
animal hesitated, then bounded away along the side-
hill and was soon lost to view in a grove of timber.
The boys were weak in the legs, and their faces
were pale as Mr. Fisher looked laughingly at them
*'We were too many for him, I guess, boys."
As they clambered down the hills, strength
came again to their legs and color to their faces; and
then, when assured they were safe, how they did
*'l jes wisht Fd had my gun," said Ned; ''Fd
Wherein Ned and Will Spend an Evening with ''Old
Man Hansen'' with Mutual Profit,
The days became short, the nights cold, and the
fall rains began. For the boys of Springtown this
meant the end of the joyous summer and the begin-
ning of potato digging and of school. Some of the
boys said they would "ruther" pick potatoes than
bend over a copy-book, though both were back-
breaking jobs. Others of the boys liked school. Ned
Fisher was among the first mentioned, Will Jones
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 126
among the latter; he had always been fond of books,
and it had been through his efforts that others of the
boys had taken more of a liking to reading.
The first snow came early that year, and it was
not long before the stiller ponds were frozen over,
furnishing skating and sliding for the boys. On Sat-
urday afternoons when the boys had tired themselves
out with skating or sliding, or when the ice was poor,
the Fisher hay-loft was still a good place to meet,
especially by the big open west door through which
the sun shone warm on the hay. One such an afternoon,
the boys were reading Robinson Crusoe. Will had
received from his mother in England a fine copy of
the book, and the boys were intensely interested in
it. Even Zeph had wanted to take the book home to
finish the chapter on the rescue of Crusoe's man
Friday; but, no, that wouldn't be fair; so here they
were that afternoon dead to all the world except to
that favored and enchanged isle away off in the
"Oh, shucks!" exclaimed that boy in disgust.
"IVe got to go. Stop till I come back, now."
They were nearly to the end of a chapter, so Zeph
126 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
lingered until it was completed. Then, as had been
agreed, the book was closed until such time when
they could all be present. The talk then ranged
from school to sleigh-riding, and many other things.
"Say, what did Old Man Hansen want of ye?"
asked one of the boys of Will.
"Oh, he just wanted me to help him with some
work," replied Will.
"Well, I guess he paid ye, didn't he? I heard he
had a lot of money tied up in a stockin' an' hid some-
where in his house. He's a regular miser, ain't he?"
"I don't think so," replied Will. He's poor. "He
wants to pay me, but I don't take anything. He's
not well yet from that broken leg."
"Shucks, I wouldn't work fer nothin'."
"Aunt Martha says I'm only paying back — an'
I guess that's so — What's the matter' Sport?"
The dog which had been lying quietly with the
boys had arisen and was growling at something.
Presently, a man emerged from the hay and slouched
out of the barn and down the road.
"A mean-looking one, too."
"He didn't want us to see him."
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 127
''Mother said only yesterday," remarked Ned,
"that she was sure a tramp was sleeping in our barn."
Zeph came back presently and as there was time
for another chapter, the book was again opened, and
away they all went back to the Robinson Crusoe
"Old Man Hansen" had taken a liking to Will
Jones; that was plainly evident; and what was more.
Will had taken a Hking to him. Brother Hansen, as
Aunt Martha always called him, was surely odd, but
beneath a rough exterior lay a warm, true heart; and
this heart Will discovered. At least some part of the
evenings twice a week. Will went up to the old man's
house and sat with him at the lamp-lighted table and
read to him from the Semi-weekly Deseret News.
Then the old man in his poor Enghsh told him of his
adventures in many parts of the world. Especially,
he liked to tell how he had joined the Church in far-
away India, and what a time he had had in getting
to Zion. As the boy listened, he began to realize more
fully what a wonderful thing this "Mormonism" is;
and he began for the first time to understand why his
mother had become a "Mormon" and wanted him to
grow up a faithful member in the Church.
128 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
The Sunday evening following the Saturday
when the boys had seen the tramp go out of the barn,
Will whistled at Ned Fisher's gate.
"Goin' to meeting" asked Will of Ned when he
*^Well, I— I don't know."
"Fm goin' to Old Man Hansen's to spend the
evening. Come an' go along."
"All right; I'll tell mother."
Ned was out again in a moment, and together the
boys went on up the path leading to the old man's
house. The night was cold, and dark storm-clouds
hung low on the hills. They found Brother Hansen
sitting by his kitchen stove. He looked very lonely,
indeed, but he brightened at sight of his visitors.
Slowly, as if painfully, he arose and greeted them and
placed chairs for them. He turned up the wick of
his lamp of curious workmanship which now cast a
cheery light throughout the room.
The old man looked at the boys quizzically from
under his bushy eyebrows. "You don't come to
tick-tack to night," he said.
"No," replied Will, "mother sent you a piece of
cake and some jam. She said she was sorry you was
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 129
not well enough to go to meetin'; so we've come to
keep you company."
'Tank you, tank you. I am sorry I cannot go
to meeting, but I am glad you come.'* He poked the
fire in the stove and put on more coal. Then he drew
his chair up to the table and motioned for the boys to
do the same.
"I did not get my paper yesterday," said Brother
Will was glad in a way, for he would much rather
hear him talk than to read to him. Besides, Ned
hadn't heard many of the old man's stories, and Will
was eager that he should.
"Tell us about India," suggested Will. *'Ned
here hasn't seen your maps and pictiu^es,"
The old man went to a desk, from which he
drew a number of maps, some books and a package
of pictures which he placed on the table. Specimens
of shells, large and small, of coral, of woods and leaves
and barks were brought out and placed in exhibition
before the boys. Then, led on by Will's question-
ings, the old man talked about the places where these
things had been obtained. He pointed out locations
on the map, and showed pictures of all sorts of out-of-
130 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
the-way places. The boys were intensely interested.
"Now, tell us about India," repeated Will.
"India? but Fve been to oder places than
India. See!" He traced with his finger on the map
the routes he had traveled — from Copenhagen to
Iceland and to Greenland, and many times around
Cape Horn —
"Where it's stormy," interrupted Will, wishing
to show his knowledge.
"Yees; it is stormy dere, den up de coast to Juan
Fernandez, where we stopped vonce for vater. Do
you know vot happened der?"
The boys looked up while the old man held a
not too steady finger on the map and gazed wisely at
them. The boys shook their heads.
"Dat's Robinson Crusoe's island."
What! and they had not known that; the boys
looked steadily at the tiny spot in the South Pacific;
then they asked so many questions about the island
that there seemed danger of them not getting away
from it that evening. At the first opening, the old
man went on:
"Den, Fve been to New Zealand, an' to Austra-
lia, an' to New Guinea; I've been to Manilla, to Hong-
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 131
kong, an' to Yokohoma; yees, Fve been to India many
His trips to India were before the days of the
Suez Canal, so they had to sail around the Cape of
Good Hope. At one time he was wrecked off the
coast of Africa and had a thrilHng escape from sav-
ages: "But de Lord saved me — for a purpose/' he
"My, but you have seen a lot of places,'' re-
marked Ned. "Now, tell us the most be-au-ti-ful
place you have ever been in."
The old man's face became grave as if in pro-
found thought, and the boys looked up into it, and
noticed the deep wrinkles in it. It seemed a long
time before he could weigh the evidence for and
against all the beautiful places he had seen to deter-
mine which was the most beautiful; but, at last he
"I tink de leetle town of Dal in Denmark is de
most peautiful spot on de eart."
The boys were astonished. Surely Paris or Ber-
lin or some place in the South Seas would be more
beautiful than a Danish village; but the old man
gave the boys no time to question this decision. He
13^ THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"Ven I joined de Church in India, as I told you,
I vent back to my home in Denmark to tell my folks
of de good tings I had found. Vel, de vould not listen
to me— did not vont me nor my religion, an' so I had
to go avay."
Brother Hansen went again to the desk, and from
a drawer brought a package of photographs. He
fumbled among them, drawing out a number. "Dis
is my fader and dis my moder,'* he explained; "dese
are my sisters. I have no broders; and dis" — ^he
untied a carefully wrapped one — "an' dis is Marie."
The old man sat back in his chair and looked at
the boys as they examined more carefully this pic-
ture. It was a photograph of a Danish girl with
round face and smooth hair and plain, simple dress.
The room became very still. Then, suddenly, there
came a knock at the door.
"Come in," said Brother Hansen.
The door opened slowly, and in the opening
stood a man. "Excuse me," he began hesitatingly,
"but could you give a hungry man something to eat?"
"Come in," again invited the old man, arising.
"No, thank you; just a piece of bread and but-
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 133
The boys looked closely at the visitor who shrank
back at their gaze. Brother Hansen went to his
cupboard, prepared a jam sandwich, and gave it to
the beggar, who thanked him and hastily retreated.
The old man closed the door again, and then came
back to the table. "Poor fellow," he said.
The boys looked again at the photograph of Marie.
"And who is this, did you say?" asked Will.
"Dat's Marie. Ven my folks vould not have me
or my religion, I vent to her. She believed same as
I, ven I exblained to her; but her folks vas angry
too, 0, so angry! Marie, she vas de most beautiful
girl in Denmark, an* so good! I had to leave. I vent
to Spain, den to New York. Ven I got back, back
to de leetle town of Dal in Denmark, Marie vas
The boys could see something like tears creep
slowly down the old man's wrinkled face; but soon
he brushed them away, smiled again, and then when
the boys got ready to leave, he brought out the cake
and jam which Will had brought. Though the boys
mildly protested, they had to have a taste before
leaving. Then he thanked them for coming and
asked them to come again soon, which they promised
184 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
The boys were silently busy with their own
thoughts until they arrived at Ned's gate. Then
Ned said :
"Fll bet that fellow who came to Old Man Han-
sen's is a tramp — the same one who ran out of our
"Sure he was — and say, he heard some of the
boys say the old man was a miser and had money in
the house. He came to rob him."
"I bet he did!"
The boys being at the house scared him off; but
he might come back. They ought to tell somebody —
the constable. Meeting had let out, and among the
last to pass was the town constable. The boys stop-
ped him and told him their story and their fears. The
officer looked his doubts, but offered to accompany
the boys up to the old man's house, which he did, and
the three stationed themselves in the bushes near
The night was cold, and it was far from comfort-
able standing there waiting. The officer said the
boys had brought him on a wild goose chase, and he
was going home. They pleaded with him to stay a
while, but to no avail. He went home.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 135
Then the light went out in the house they were
watching. The old man had gone to bed. The boys
shivered with cold, and, it must be admitted, with
fright. A dark object came up the path toward them.
It was only Sport, who came humbly wagging his
tail as if asking pardon for thus intruding. ''You
rascal,*' said Ned. They would make too much noise
in sending him back home so they told him to "lay
down'' and be quiet. After all, there was some com-
fort in having Sport with them.
Presently, as they watched, a man came slowly
up to the door. It was the tramp come back. Their
fears were well founded. He tried the door, but find-
ing it fastened he went around to the window. He
began to fumble with it, trying to open it.
What could they do?
"We must scare him away," whispered Will.
The tramp seemed to have gotten the window
Just then the boys gave vent to the loudest calls
they were capable of. They shrieked in terror, and
Sport jumped up and added his bark to the noise.
The tramp immediately left the house and ran
through the lot away from the boys The shouting
136 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
had attracted the attention of the constable who
turned back just in time to catch the tramp
as he came cross-lots to hide in a bam. The old man,
hearing the racket, got lip again, lighted his lamp, and
came to the door just in time to see the boys and the
dog chase past into the street toward home.
So that night there was some excitement in
Springtown. What with the calming of old Man
Hansen, the viewing the captured desperado now safe-
ly lodged in the jail, and listening to the wild-eyed
narratives of Ned and Will, the citizens of the village
did not get to sleep until some time past midnight.
In Which the Bishop Talks to the Boys, and William
Wallace Is Called upon to Make a Sacrifice,
At the Sunday evening meeting after Christmas,
the Bishop of Springtown read out the names of six
boys which, he explained, he wanted to meet at his
home the following evening. At the appointed time,
the boys — Will and Ned among them — with much
speculation of what was wanted of them, appeared at
the home of the Bishop.
Mary, the Bishop's daughter, invited them into
138 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
the warm, cosy parlor and told them to be seated.
"Father will be in shortly/' she explained; "and while
you are waiting, you are to eat an apple;" at which
she passed a plate of the rosiest of apples. When the
fruit had been disposed of, all but the tiniest cores
which the Bishop's daughter collected from them,
the Bishop came in. He shook hands with each of
them, and asked them how they liked his apples.
He did not give them time to answer in many words,
but went on talking as he seated himself where he
could look the boys squarely in their faces.
"Well, boys," he said, "I have been watching
you for some time — " The boys glanced at each
other in dismay— "and although you are up to a good
deal of mischief, you are generally pretty good boys.
Now, all good boys in this Church should grow better
and more useful as they grow older; and the best
way to do this is to receive the Priesthood and have
some responsibilities placed upon them."
The fears of the boys vanished somewhat.
"I think all you boys are worthy to receive the
Priesthood and to be ordained to the office of Deacon.
But first, let me tell you something about this Priest-
hood which all boys do not think of or understand.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 139
"The Lord in bringing to pass His purposes, works
with the means at hand. On the earth, this consists
of the people who Hve here. So the Lord gives some
of the authority which He has to those who are wor-
thy and will accept it and help Him with it. This
authority we call Priesthood.
''All you boys know that when a seed is planted
in the ground, it sprouts very slowly. You cannot
see it grow; you can only see that it has grown from
day to day. In order to mature, a plant must have,
besides the soil, water, sunshine, and warmth. Again,
that which grows quickly is not of much value: a
mushroom springs up during the night, but a great
oak tree takes a hundred years to mature.
"Now, when the Priesthood is given to a man or
a boy, it is like planting a seed in his soul. If he will
take proper care of it, it will grow to something of
great value — something beautiful and strong; but it
takes time. When the brethren will place their hands
on your heads and bestow the Priesthood upon you,
there will be no difference in you that you or any-
body else can see. The seed only has been planted,
and it will take time for that seed to grow and bear
fruit. You cannot see it grow; time only will show a
140 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
growth. The boy who will use and develop the gift
he has received will grow in all the things which go to
make a good, fine, strong man; but the boy who
neglects to take care of his gift by not doing his duty
will grow only in body.
"There are differences in men as well as in plants,
and we all can see those differences. For instance,
I know two men who received the Priesthood on the
same day when they were boys about your age. One
of them took the right care of his gift, and now he is
a fine, very much respected man, one whom you all
know and honor. The other neglected that which
had been bestowed upon him, did wrong, and the
Priesthood was taken from him. Now he is like a
little crooked tree that has been denied sun and
water and air — and you boys would know him also
if I mentioned his name. These two boys started
life very much alike; as boys they were equal; now,
if you should put them side by side, you would see
a big difference."
The boys listened attentively. The Bishop
seemed to have closed his little sermon; but he began
again as if he had thought of something else:
"By the way, there is another matter I wish to
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 141
speak of. The other day I found two of you boys —
ril not say which two — on the sunny side of a barn,
smoking. Now, I know, of course, that what you
were smoking was cedar bark rolled into the form of
a cigarette. Cedar bark may not be as injurious as
tobacco, but the danger of it is that it leads to tobac-
co, and when once tobacco gets a hold of a boy, it
makes a slave of him for life, unless he quits. Now,
this man of whom I told you who doesn't amount to
much is a constant smoker, and he began the bad
habit by smoking cedar bark as a boy, as I happen
to know. — That's all, boys; you'll all think about
what Fve been telling, will you not?"
Some of the boys said, "Yes, sir."
"Well, now; the Lord's going to make Deacons
of you; but He'll need your help to make fine men
out of you. Just a moment, boys. Mary, come in
and sing for the boys."
The Bishop's daughter came in and seated her-
self at the piano. "What do you boys like?" she
In a few minutes she had the boys standing about
her singing lustily if not so tunefully. In half an
hour, they departed in fine spirits.
142 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
In due time the boys were ordained Deacons
and definite duties were assigned them in the care of
the meeting house. Will Jones wrote to his mother
about it; in her reply, she said:
" I am so glad that you were counted
worthy. Do your duty always, and you will have
great joy in it. You have told me before of the fun
you often have, and I am glad to know that you are
enjojdng youself. Some boys wouldn't think it fun
to clean and fill the lamps for the meeting-house;
but it truly is. Prove it for yourself in this way:
During the meeting, look at the clean lamp-chimney
and the brightly burning lights and note what a cheer-
fulness they cast over the meeting. Then look into
your own heart, and see if there isn't a sweet content-
ment there, a sort of reflection from the lamps you
have polished. Try this, and then write to me the
Shortly after this letter, another came from his
mother, telling him that his father had died. Al-
though this father had never been much to Will, the
boy's heart was full at the news, and he cried softly
on his pillow that night. His mother was now alone.
She could come to him. Here was plenty to eat and
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 143
to wear, and here was sunshine and freedom; and
then, the boy planned, he was getting a big boy and
could work. He would earn money and send for his
mother. The tears dried, and he fell to sleep with
the happy thought.
The next morning at the breakfast table Will
"Aunt Martha, don't you think I ought to quit
school now and go to work to earn money to bring
Aunt Martha looked at the boy for a moment
before she replied: "What could you do?"
"Well, I don't know. I — I can chop wood, an'
do chores, an' when summer comes, I can work on a
"Well, when summer comes we can think about
that, but you mustn't quit school now. I'm sure your
mother wouldn't want you to do that."
"No; I guess she wouldn't, but — "
There seemed no other way at present than to
continue school. Will talked the matter over with
Ned a number of times; but his chum, though not
usually lacking in suggestions, could not help him
much in the way of earning one hundred dollars, the
144 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
amount it would take to pay for the mother's passage.
The sum seemed vast and unattainable to the boys.
About a month before the closing of school, the
Manager of the Co-op store went to the school teacher
and told him he was looking for a boy to help in the
"I don't want a boy who is not going to school,"
the Manager explained, "for he's not the right kind to
begin with. I want one who can be trusted, and who
is apt, for there will be a chance for him to advance
to a more responsible position." The teacher and the
Manager considered the names of a number of the
boys, but nothing was to be done until the close of
Spring came early that year, none too early, how-
ever, for the boys, eager to get out from poorly venti-
lated school-rooms to the invigorating out-doors.
On the sxmny side of the school house, when there
wasn't time for marbles, the boys discussed their plans
for the coming season of summer activity. Will Jones
did not say much; responsibility weighed upon him;
he would have to go to work to earn money just as
soon as school was out. Ned Fisher's leadership had
also waned, for his father had plans for him. These
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 145
two, at least, though they did not fully realize it,
would, from that time on, be largely out of the boy-
hood life of Springtown. They would step out as
leaders of the "crowd," changed anyway by the en-
tering of younger boys, and others would take their
At the close of the school. Will Jones was given
the job in the store. With awe the boys heard the
news. None of their ambitions had ever reached the
exalted height of working in a store, where, if they so
desired, they could at any time go behind the counter
and take a piece of candy. And here was Will Jones
given this great honor!
Uncle Josiah and Aunt Martha and the Bishop
and many others were glad. ''Good for you, WilHam
Wallace!" exclaimed his aunt. "See to it that you
And the boy said, "I'll try."
Will had been in his new position about a month,
when one day Mr. Fisher came into the store and lean-
ed over the counter where Will was weighing out some
"Say," said Mr. Fisher, "do you want to sell
146 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
''What? Sell Prince? Not much. Who wants
to buy him?''
"I do." ' '
"You? he's no good to work. Why do you want
"Oh, I just want him; he's no good to you — ^just
To sell the horse had never entered Will's head.
Prince was "one of them," — one of the crowd. One
might as well think of selling one's best friend or a
brother. Oh, no.
"Well, I don't blame you; but look here." Mr.
Fisher showed Will a letter. "I just now got this from
the postmaster. It's from the circus man who says
he's trying to find the person who got his disabled
pony last summer at the circus. He asks the post-
master if he knows of any such person in Springtown.
The postmaster does, so here's the letter."
Will read the letter. It informed him that the
young lady who had been riding Prince in the circus
would give him no rest until he had found the horse
for her. The circus would be in Wanda again early
in June. He would be glad to meet the one who now
had the pony, if the animal was still alive Will
handed the letter back, and said :
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 147
"He can't have the horse. He's mine."
"Of course, he'll pay you for it."
"I don't care. Prince don't want to go back
to the circus. He wants to stay with me."
"How do you know?"
"Well — I know — Do you want some soap?" —
this to the customer.
The postmaster answered the letter of inquiry,
and in the course of two weeks, Will received a com-
munication. In it the circus man said he was glad to
know that the horse was well. The young lady was
set on having it again, as she had never been able to
perform her act successfully since she had lost him.
Of course, the expense of caring for the horse would be
met. The circus would be in Wanda on the 7th —
ten days off — and he would come to Springtown the
All the members of the family were present
when Will read the letter.
"Are you going to let them have him?" asked
Gwenrfi'i?.'* The arKmBl- hail become her special pet
since be -had lived ii-their barn. *^'
"I^^I don't know," acknowledged Will.
"Don't you let them take him," she protested.
148 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"Hush, Gwennie," admonished the mother.
"We'll have to do what is best and right. We'll wait
and see what the circus man says."
The man came as he had promised, the day be-
fore the circus. He looked over the little horse, ex-
amined carefully its injured leg, and observed it run
freely about the yard. Mr. Fisher, Aunt Martha,
Ned, Will, and a group of other interested boys were
"He seems to be all right again," said the man.
"Now, what do we owe you for taking care of him?"
He spoke as if he was still owner of the horse, and that
it was only a matter of paying for the hay he had
eaten and then taking him away.
"The horse is mine," said Will, ''and I don't
want to sell him."
The man looked at the boy. "Yes," continued
Will, "you gave him to me — and Ned, and Ned gave
me his share — an' he's mine — an' I want him!"
The boy's voice trembled. This was the first
animal of any kind that he had owned. He had learn-
ed to love the knowing little pony, and the pony had
surely returned that love as much as any animal can.
Even as they stood there looking at it, the horse came
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. . 149
up and placed his head over Will's shoulder as if he
was choosing rather to stay with the boys in the
green fields of Springtown than to be hurried about
the country to cut up capers in a dusty, noisy circus
ring. Will placed his arm about the horse's neck and
petted it gently.
"Well," said the circus man, "we'll say it's your
horse. I'll buy him from you. I'll give you seventy-
five dollars for him."
"That's fair," remarked Mr. Fisher, who thought
the price was all such a plaything was worth.
Will stood mutely holding the horse's head, while
no one spoke.
"We'll make it an even hundred dollars," offered
the circus man.
Aunt Martha beckoned to the boy, who came to
her, with a mute question on his face.
"A hundred dollars will bring your mother from
the old country to you," she whispered to him.
A hundred dollars! What a large sum of money!
Yes, that would bring his mother to him. Will's
mind was not exactly clear.- He went over to the
fence, rested his arms on the rail, and looked across
the valley to the hills In a few moments he
160 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"ril take the hundred dollars," he said.
The circus man took out his pocket book, and
from it counted five twenty dollar bills, and handed
them to Will. Then he wrote out a bill of sale, which
he had Will sign.
"Well, now, that's business,'' remarked the
buyer. "Will you bring the horse to Wanda?"
Will shook his head, whereupon Ned offered to
accompany the circus man with the horse. Will
gave the horse a farewell pat, then with the roll of
bills firmly gripped, he walked into the house.
The circus man smiled sympathetically, gave
each one in the group a pass to the circus — two to
Aunt Martha — and then with Ned Fisher's help
started on his way to Wanda.
But Will Jones did not go to the circus next day,
though he had a ticket and a chance to ride. He said
he could not very well leave his work at the store.
When the Manager heard of that, he took a half day
of! himself, leaving Will in charge of the business.
In Which Will Jones' Mother Comes to Zion, and We
Say Goodhy to the Boys of Springtown,
As usual, nearly the whole of Springtown had
gone to the circus. The village was quiet and there
was very little business at the store. About the mid-
dle of the afternoon, the Bishop stepped in to where
Will was keeping lonely watch.
"Nothing much doing today," remarked the
"No; everybody's gone to the circus."
162 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"All but you — and me," said the Bishop with a
"That's about right."
"Well, I heard what you did with your horse
"I'm sure you did the right thing."
"I guess I did."
"For now you can soon have your mother with
"Yes," was all Will could say.
"I have just come from old Brother Hansen.
He's pretty sick."
"I'm sorry; he wasn't well the last time I was
"I don't think he'll last long. He said he would
like to see you. Could you go to him this evening?"
"Yes; just as soon as I close the store, I'll go up."
"That's good. Perhaps I'll call a little later in
As soon as Will could close the store that evening,
he hurried up the hill to old Brother Hansen's. He
found the old man in bed, hardly able to speak; but
the sick man smiled faintly when he saw the lad com-
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 153
ing to his bedside. Will took his hand, and the sick
man grasped it quite firmly, as he motioned for the
boy to sit down near him.
"Fm — so — sick,'* he whispered.
"Fm sorry; can I do anything for you?"
The old man shook his head; then he looked at
Will quite a while without speaking. Then faintly:
"I — soon — go. I have — no — people here. You
— good — boy."
Will was confused into silence.
"Your moder — soon — come. You — live — here."
The old man raised an emaciated hand as if to indi-
cate the room. Will did not understand, nor did he
question him further, but he tried to cheer him by
telling him what was going on in the neighborhood.
The sick man hstened, then after a time, he inter-
"Dare, dat— vil— do. Bring— me— box." He
pointed to the drawer in his desk which contained
his photographs. Will brought them to the old man
and helped him untie the package and place the pic-
tures in his hands. He looked at them one by one.
The last one was that of Marie, and he held it in his
trembHng hand a long time. When he laid it down
on the coverlet, he murmured:
154 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
"Marie — I — come — soon."
Then he apparently fell asleep. Will watched
for some time until the Bishop came, then some Re-
lief Society sisters. As Will could do no more, he
The next morning the Bishop called at the Jones'
home before Will had gone to the store and told them
that old Brother Hansen had died during the night.
"And I have something to tell Will, here, which
you, Sister Jones, may hear. Some people who talk
unknowingly have said that the old man was a miser,
and that he had money hidden away somewhere in
his house. Brother Hansen told me that that was not
true. All the property he had was the two-roomed
house in which he lived and the lot which he culti-
vated so well. He has no known relatives. Now,
this is what he told me day before yesterday, that
when he was dead, the lot and the house and every-
thing in them should go to William Wallace Jones
and his mother."
The announcement was received in silence.
"That's right," continued the Bishop. "I con-
gratulate you, my boy. You deserve it too, for your
kindness to the old man. He looked upon you as
one of the best friends he had ever had."
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 165
Wiirs heart was full. He could hardly eat his
breakfast. How the Lord was blessing him, and he
so unworthy! He had tried to be a good, fair, honest
boy; but he hadn't done much, and now—
Ned met Will at the gate. He also had heard the
news about Will's good luck. They walked on to-
gether to the store. Ned was talkative about his own
affairs and prospects. He and his father were going
to take up some land on the west bench and try dry-
farming which was then beginning to be developed.
Ned was to have a share in the profits, if there were
any— and of course, there would be. Yes; prospects
were indeed bright for him also.
The one hundred dollars, with a few more added,
were immediately sent to the Liverpool church
office for the emigrating of Will's mother. Shortly
after old Brother Hansen's mortal remains had been
laid away on the hill-side. Aunt Martha, Will, and
Ned inspected the property which had come into
Will's keeping. The lot had been somewhat neglected
that spring, although the flowers and the shrubbery
were growing in rich profusion and confusion. Will
could see that much work would be needed to bring it
back to its former well-kept condition. Aunt
156 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
Martha's practical eyes scanned the house, within
and without, as to changes and possibilities.
The sun was just setting when the three stood
on the small west porch and looked out on the beauti-
ful prospect before them.
*Tour mother will like this," said Aunt Martha.
"She was always wanting flowers and grass and a bit
of a garden, which she could never have in her crowd-
ed Liverpool quarters, though she did manage, you
remember, a pot or two of flowers."
"How she'll like the fresh, clean air: excl. imed
Will as he himself expanded his lungs with a deep
"Yes; and the freedom of country life, with
plenty of butter — real butter, mind you — and eggs
and milk I'm so glad and thankful for her sake,
and for yours, too. Will."
She placed her hand caressingly on the boy's
shoulder, and the boy surprised her by giving her a
hug and a kiss.
"Aye, you are an English lad yet," she said in
her English way.
"But I'm also an American," he rephed, straight-
ening to the dignity of his new citizenship.
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 157
Six weeks later the mother was due to arrive at
Wanda. Uncle Josiah, Aunt Martha, Gwennie, and
Will drove to the station to meet her. The train from
the East was late as usual; but at last, the big Over-
land Limited arrived, slowed down, and stopped
long enough to let off a little English-clad woman
and her big trunk. Will stood back, somewhat timid-
ly. Was this his mother? She had changed; yes,
but there was the familiar smile, peculiar in that it
seemed to come rather from her eyes than from her
lips. She looked at her boy as he stood there, a little
apart. How he had grown! How handsome he
"William Wallace," she said, "my boy, is that
Then they were in each other's arms.
What a lot they all had to tell each other as they
drove homeward! They let the horses take their own
slow gait, so the sun had nearly set when they ar-
rived at Springtown. They drove directly to the new
home on the hill-side.
Not a word had been told Will's mother about
the home which was awaiting her, clean and spick
158 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
and span within and without, with even a great bank
of EngHsh ivy chmbing over the walls and about the
The new arrival looked at the house approving-
**What a neat little home you have," she said to
"Do you like it?"
"Oh, yes, indeed; it looks so cool and cosy."
Aunt Martha gave Will a knowing wink. They
all went into the house, and the weary traveler sank
into a chair, not too tired, however, to look on the
simple comfort about her. Aunt Martha took her hat
and cloak and hung them in a built-in closet behind
the door. Mrs. Jones noticed that the closet was
empty, also that there was no clothing hanging about,
such as may always be found in a small occupied
house. She wondered what it could mean.
"Isn't this your home?" she asked Aunt Martha.
Aunt Martha laughed gently and again looked
"What is it — what are you two up to?"
"William Wallace, tell her."
"This is our house. Mother, our home"
THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN. 159
Mrs. Jones arose and looked about in curious
amazement; but she was cut short in her questioning
and her exclamations by a chorus of voices from with-
out. The boys of Springtown — WilFs crowd — had
come in a body, and they were trying to sing a song of
welcome by the open window. Even Sport, the dog,
was with them, and added his howls to their voices.
Will went to the door.
"Halloo, boys; come in," he invited. But the
boys hung back.
"Who are they?" asked his mother.
"They're the boys," explained Will, "my crowd."
Mrs. Jones added her invitation to Will's.
"Thank ye, m'am," said Dick; "but we jest come
to welcome ye, 'cause you're Will's mother."
Just then the Manager of the Co-op store drove
up and handed over to Uncle Josiah a freezer of ice-
cream. He followed the ice-cream into the house,
remained a few minutes, then came out and drove
off. The boys lingered.
Yes; each of them got a dish of ice-cream and a
cookie before they went clattering and chattering
down the path.
160 THE BOYS OF SPRINGTOWN.
After the others had gone, Will lighted the lamp,
the self-same lamp of curious workmanship which
had given light for many years to its former owner.
He placed it on the table in his mother's room.
"Mother," said Will, *'this is your room. Go
to bed now and rest as long as you can in the morn-
ing. I sleep out on the porch. There need be no
hurry for either of us to get up, as I have tomorrow
Tears of joy stood in the woman's eyes. What a
release from bondage had been hers! To what a real
Land of Zion had she come, and how good the Lord
had been! She took her boy's hands and looked into
his face for a long time.
"William Wallace," she asked softly, "do you
always say your prayers?"
"Yes, mother — nearly always."
"Tonight we'll say them together. We'll thank
the Lord for His great mercy and goodness toward us.
Come, my boy, kneel here with me."
The silence of a country evening brooded over
valley, village, and the little home on the hillside.
From a nearby yard the silvery tinkle of a sheep's
bell and the soft cooing of pigeons mingled their
music with the mother's fervent prayer.
JAN 3 :. 1997
NOV 2 9TS^
■AY 2 1 198 5
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